Ethnographic and Life History Approaches

    (a Case Study based on Chuqala Butta’s Personal Narratives)
    Cushitic Salale Oromo of Northeast Africa, Ethiopia

    Indiana University
    Spring 2013 
    In this study, using ethnographic and life history approaches, I examine folksongs and narratives of displacement obtained through interview from Chuqala Butta, 92, a Salale Oromo in Ethiopia. Chuqala Butta is a living testimony of displacement and resistance against influences inflicted upon him as a young boy and on the Salale people by the Shawan Amhara rulers. Using this case study, the project undertakes the thesis of folklore used as an emancipatory act against a disempowering situation in Ethiopia and to subvert the overriding memory of conflict-induced displacement. Toward this end, in addition to personal narrative accounts, I posit, folklore can serve as a wellspring of data to better understand the negativistic social transformations from the people’s viewpoints and to examine closely the way such transformations affect individuals, communities, societies and the nation. Analysis of the local dimensions of social transformations, I propose, benefits from close investigation of the life experience of the people,their history from “below” and politics vis-à-vis the (trans)national