Religious Imperialism in Ethiopia

Beyond European imperialism and colonialism, I am fascinated by the resistance and resilience of different communities living in-between expansive Christian and Islamic kingdoms in 10th-15th centuries central Ethiopia. The body and the material culture associated with it played a crucial role in resisting religious regimes and biopolitics. My work focuses on body adornment and burials aiming at analysing funerary rituals and power and social asymmetries, as well as resistance practices through the period. This project has only recently started and most of my research is still in progress. Yet, the LA-ICP-MS analysis of glass beads, carried out in collaboration with the Field Museum in Chicago, has yielded exciting results linking these hinterland communities to the Indian Ocean trade.

– Street in Harar, eastern Ethiopia, 2019 (Author)

– View of the walls surrounding the sacred Muslim city of Harar, 2019 (Author)

– Narrow streets in Harar (Author)


– Me and the heritage officer Bruk Jifara cleaning and counting many (!) glass beads in the Ethiopian Authority for Research and Conservation of Cultural Heritage (Author)

– Pottery sherds from the Shay Culture, 10th-13th centuries (Author)

My interest in this region derives from the long-established research record in the Horn of Africa of my alma mater, the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, and it is connected with current projects in the area carried out by the Spanish National Research Council, the Collège de France, and the Centre français des études éthiopiennes.

– Iron bracelets and rings, and glass beads from the Shay Culture (Author)