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Document Type:Latin Dissertation
Language of Document:English
Record Number:53073
Doc. No:TL23027
Call number:‭3212812‬
Main Entry:Mohammed Hamid Mohammed
Title & Author:Imagining and performing Habasha identity: The Ethiopian diaspora in the area of Washington, D.CMohammed Hamid Mohammed
College:Northwestern University
Date:2006
Degree:Ph.D.
student score:2006
Page No:358
Abstract:Washington, D.C. hosts a distinct density of Ethiopians that sets it apart as the largest Ethiopian demographic axis and cultural hub outside of the horn of African country. Unfamiliar with the historical white-black relations in the United States (partially attributable to absence of colonial occupation), Ethiopians migrated to the United States in three waves beginning from the 1920s. These movements reflected the turbulent political and economic traumas their homeland experienced in the 20th-century in concert with global forces that transformed the world. The qualitative majority of Ethiopian immigrants in the United States are speakers of the Afro-Semitic languages, Amharic and Tigrigna, to whom blackness represents an alien notion of inferiority. This dissertation examines Ethiopians' reinvention and performance of the racially ambivalent Habasha identity in Washington, D.C. as a creative response to the disempowering implications of blackness. It addresses Habasha's entanglement in the political economic hierarchies of America by focusing on how everyday and symbolic performances enable or disable Ethiopians' desire to fit into the molds of dominant American discourses of race, ethnicity, gender, and class. The Habasha seek to establish their prestige through ritualized re-enactments of Judeo-Christian heritage and phenotypic markers that they stage in different spaces such as churches, restaurants, coffee shops, stadiums, fashion catwalks, museums, and so forth. Conversely, African-Americans and southern Ethiopians contest expressions of Habasha exceptionalism. These processes unfold against a backdrop of rapid gentrification in the Adams Morgan and Shaw neighborhoods of northwestern Washington, D.C., the retail hearts of Habasha mobility and areas Ethiopians have made home since the 1980s. Although the general rise in real estate prices continues to affect both communities, a recent proposal to rename a corner of 9th Street at U Street, NW to "Little Ethiopia" has particularly intensified tensions between Ethiopians and African-Americans. The dissertation argues that Habashaness highlights "Semitic" ancestry to circumvent the negative ascriptions of blackness in exchange for economic and social mobility. Yet, it also emphasizes the contested performances of Habashaness can be sites for racial/ethnic dialogue in order to tackle larger socio-economic disparities.
Subject:Social sciences; Diaspora; Ethiopian; Habasha; Identity; Washington, D.C.; American studies; Cultural anthropology; Minority & ethnic groups; Sociology; 0326:Cultural anthropology; 0323:American studies; 0631:Sociology; 0631:Minority & ethnic groups
Added Entry:M. T. Drewal
Added Entry:Northwestern University