Urban Spaces and Social Practices in the Context of Economic Growth and Political Transitions in Addis Ababa: Living with Sheep and Goats in a City under Construction.

Authors: Madlen Hornung*, University of Bayreuth
Topics: Urban Geography, Social Geography, Development
Keywords: Southern Urbanism, Commodification, Human-Animal Relations, Markets, Ethnography, (Counter-) Development, Ethiopia
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: 8228, Park Tower Suites, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Ethiopia’s economy is one of the fastest growing economies in Africa. As part of the important agricultural sector, the trade in livestock is presently ‘under modernization’ to improve productivity for national consumption as well as export. The consecutive interventions in this seemingly rural field of research can also be observed in the capital Addis Ababa where sheep and goats belong to public and private spaces. Those urban spaces are at present firmly rearranged ‘from above’ and face questions of ‘the rural’ and ‘the urban’.

Conducting an urban ethnography in this atmosphere of radical political change and city re-/construction, I am tracing social practices linked to ruminants in Addis Ababa and surroundings. This leads me among other spaces to vibrant livestock markets, planning offices, investment forums, diaspora-meetings, slaughter-houses, meat and meeting places, backyards with home-slaughtering, kitchens and living-rooms. In all those public and private, male and female, rich and precarious, religious, monetary etc. spaces I am observing dis/continuities of social practices in relation with ruminants.
My findings are so far portraying two major stories. On the one hand the commodification and incorporation of the Ethiopian livestock-sector into national goals of development, linking it with international markets and thereby challenging various social and cultural daily practices as observed elsewhere in the past. On the other hand diverse everyday-stories that show very specific forms of understanding and living those changes, drawing different pictures of development in Addis Ababa and thereby questioning teleological development narratives of western societies and geographical development research.

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