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The Evolution of Ethiopian Absolutism
The Genesis and the Making of the Fiscal Military State (1696-1913)
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Since the early 1970s, the Ethiopian society witnessed swift, incredibly dramatic and profound changes in Ethiopia, the country to which the Bible’s description of heaven was said to refer. It had turned into a nightmare in a span of two decades. The myth of Ethiopia as the breadbasket of the Horn of Africa was shattered by hunger and starvation taking its toll on millions of lives. The “Sun King”, Haile Selassie I, was dethroned by a middle-class revolution and labelled as the “prominent reactionary”. A country whose culture was said to be based on the philosophy of human love and dignity turned into a place of terror, torture, and horrifying scenes of dead corpses on the streets. The tradition of appreciating the merits of bravery and kindness was replaced by judging people on their ethnic affiliation, a changed criterion used to redefine the collective identity and the reorganization of state and society. The Evolution of Ethiopian Absolutism is conceived out of professional curiosity and desire to understand and to set these changes in their broader historical context.This book synthesis the development of the Ethiopian state and society at a particular historical stage: the appearance of a new type of power centralization synchronized with Ethiopia’s integration into an international state system and capitalist world economy. Adopting a system approach and analysis as a method of cognition, this book reviews major interpretation of the historical process and presents an alternative understanding as well as explanation of the period. It identifies the distinct fiscal systems of the state, reveals the secrets of the Ethiopian independence, and presents a fresh view on the structural problems of economic development. The work is based on a wide range of primary source materials and most essential literature. The empirical data are analyzed within an elaborated hypothesis and theoretical framework to attain reliable information.
Tsegaye Tegenu has written several publications, including his book Evolution of Ethiopian Absolutism: The Genesis and Making of the Fiscal Military State (1696-1913), (Tsehai Publishers, 2007), and published various articles and paper about Ethiopia. He is also an editor of "Ethiopia on the Web" (www.ethiopia.com/tsegaye_intro.htm).
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