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Paper Presented at the 2010 Association for Humanist Sociology, Santa Fe, New Mexico, Novemebr 3-7

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November 2010


Although it has been impossible to freely study, write, and publish on the issues of the Oromo people in the Ethiopian Empire because of political repression, activist Oromo scholars in the Diaspora have been engaging in the development critical Oromo scholarship to address the political, economic, cultural and social problems of this down-trodden people for almost two decades. As a member of the Oromo Diaspora, I have been participating in and observing the development of Oromo scholarship. Successive Ethiopian governments have been targeting for imprisonment or elimination activist Oromos suspecting their participation in the Oromo national movement for national self-determination, statehood, and multinational democracy. In this paper, I focus on four major issues: First, I introduce the Oromo people and their gross human rights violations by the Ethiopian colonial state. Second, I explore the issues of the Oromo national struggle, my involvement in this struggle, my intellectual journey that has been shaped by this struggle and my commitment for social justice in the unjust capitalist world system. Third, I identify and explore the processes through which the Oromo Diaspora emerged and how the Oromo activist scholars in this group have struggled to dismantle the monopoly of knowledge production and dissemination by the Ethiopian elite and Ethiopianist scholars through developing an alternative knowledge for liberation and social justice. Fourth, I explain the significance of understanding the contradictions between Ethiopian and Oromo studies as the former represents the knowledge for domination and exploitation and the later the knowledge for liberation and social justice. Specifically, I explain why it is challenging to promote justice for indigenous peoples like the Oromo who do not have states in the unjust and corrupt capitalist world system.

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