Background

Background Information
History of the Institute:
The Institute of Ethiopian Studies (IES), the oldest of the five research institutes within the Addis Ababa University system, was founded in 1963. The Institute was established to develop and operate the library and ethnographic museum, to publish the Journal of Ethiopian Studies and other publications, as well as to co-ordinate, and encourage research and serve as the center of Ethiopian studies at the national and international levels. Several factors led to the establishment of the IES.

The need to conduct research, develop and organize a corpus of scholarly knowledge on Ethiopia had made a center, which focuses on Ethiopian studies a necessity.
The need to promote and expand research in the various disciplines within the University itself.
The need for awareness about the country’s cultural heritage.
The beginning of the IES library and the ethnological collection of the museum could be traced back 50 years to the collection work of books on Ethiopia and some cultural artifacts in the early 1950s. The UCAA Library started collecting books on Ethiopia (Ethiopiana) right from its beginning in 1950. The nucleus collection of books on Ethiopia, in foreign and Ethiopian languages, maps, microfilms, etc., were moved from the former University College Library in the Arat Kilo campus to the former Genete-Leul Palace of Emperor Haile Selassie I, at Sidist Kilo, which later became the main campus of the University.

The IES Museum evolved from the activities of the Ethnological Society, which was formed in 1951 to study and record the various customs and ways of life of the Ethiopian people. In the course of its activities, the Society started collecting objects representing the material culture of Ethiopian society; and its first purchases, such as pots, baskets, and wood works, etc., were installed along the corridors on the first floor of the UCAA library.

This ethnological collection gradually expanded and was in due course named the University College Museum. Thus, the UCAA Museum, or rather a nucleus of the museum was born. With the establishment of the Institute of Ethiopian Studies by the University’s Faculty Council in 1963, the Institute’s Museum came into official existence and all the Ethiopian books and the ethnological collection was moved from Arat Kilo Campus to the newly created Institute of Ethiopian Studies at Sidist Kilo Campus.

Objectives of the Institute

The Institute had the following seven-fold objectives in the early phase of the its history:

To publish an inter-disciplinary periodical, the Journal of Ethiopian Studies, as well as other publications related to Ethiopia, including biographies, catalogues and other works of documentation.
To maintain the University’s specialist library on Ethiopia.
To operate an Ethnological Museum, and related collections, and to assist and promote the organization of Ethiopian exhibitions both at home and abroad.
To constitute a Research Unit, mainly in the field of history and related disciplines.
To hold conferences, meetings and seminars.
To handle questions connected with visiting scholars from abroad.
To encourage interest and research on Ethiopian history and culture, and to correspond with relevant individuals and institutions
The Institute of Ethiopian Studies (IES) had come a long way in carrying out its mission since its founding in 1963. In view of its developments and the changing circumstances, the Institute required more fitting organizational set up, administrative autonomy, and a more streamlined set of objectives, focused on the humanities and cultural studies. Thus, a statute defining the administrative autonomy of the Institute was issued by the Senate of the University in 1995.

Based on the “Statute of the Institute of Ethiopian Studies, 1995” which was issued by the AAU Senate on the 16th of August 1995, the Institute has the following two broad objectives:

to conduct, promote and coordinate research and publication on Ethiopian Studies with special emphasis on the humanities and cultural studies; and
to aid in the conservation of the Ethiopian cultural heritage by collecting, classifying, cataloguing, preserving and displaying in a museum objects reflecting the material and spiritual culture of the diverse nationalities of Ethiopia.
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