The silences of the ‘‘Great Tradition’’: Counter-hegemonic narratives in Yoomi Laataa?

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The silences of the ‘‘Great Tradition’’: Counter-hegemonic narratives in Yoomi Laataa?

Wednesday 23 November 2022, 15.30 -17.00

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In this talk, I address two major points about how the first Oromo historical novel, Yoomi Laataa? (When Shall It Be?,2010) engage with the Ethiopian political history. First, I present how the context, content and form are in dialogue in the novel’s attempt of narrativizing historical narratives. Second, I reflect on the strategies utilized by the novel in contesting the narrative of domination, and in foregrounding often silenced voices of the dominated people in Ethiopia, the Oromo people in this context. As a theoretical framework, I employ a ‘contextual reading approach’ that combines insights from contextualist narratology, Bakhtinian theory of the novel and Orsinian spatial re-imagination in the reading of literary texts in the marginalized languages. To this end, I read Yoomi Laataa?, as a resistant literary text that counters hegemonic narrative within Ethiopian literary studies, commonly addressed as the ‘’Great Tradition’’, both through the narrative techniques and thematic selection it employs.



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Ayele Kebede, Postdoctoral fellow in the School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics at SOAS 

Dr Ayele Kebede taught English at Bule Hora University (Ethiopia) for six years. There, he conducted extensive fieldwork among a marginalized population, the Guji-Oromo. Dr Kebede focused particularly on the Guji oral tradition and how women use different forms of orature to express their views.  

In 2017, Ayele joined a PhD program in Cultural, Literary and Postcolonial Studies at School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, funded by the European Research Council Project, Multilingual Locals and Significant Geographies: a new approach to world literature led by Prof. Francesca Orsini. Ayele’s thesis is a comparative study of novels in two widely spoken Ethiopian languages (Afan Oromo and Amharic). Upon completing his doctorate, Ayele became SOAS as a postdoctoral fellow in the School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics. His current project focuses on gender, orature and world literature from the perspective of the Guji-Oromo in southern Ethiopia.  


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Part of the African Languages, Literatures and Cultures Network events