Ethiopia in Focus: Photography, Nationalism, Diaspora, and Modernization


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships


Art, Art History & Visual Studies


This dissertation examines photographic representations of Ethiopian identity. It focuses on Emperor Haile Selassie I as a recuperative figure in Pan-African contexts, images by court photographer and later London studio portraitist Shemelis Desta, and contemporary works created by Ethiopian artists in the diaspora one generation after the Derg’s collapse. Exploring visual processes that concern, inform, and confront the practices of photographers working at the intersection of ethnic identity and nationalism, this dissertation scrutinizes Ethiopian artists’ views of the importance of their work to their country and to the African diaspora in conjunction with opposing historical narratives adopted by black nationalists, and alternatively, white imperialists in the early twentieth century.