Research Programs: Fellowships for University Teachers

Period of Performance

9/1/2004 - 5/31/2005

Funding Totals

$40,000.00 (approved)
$40,000.00 (awarded)

Adwa: Africa and Europe in the Age of Empire

FAIN: FA-50412-04

Raymond A. Jonas
University of Washington (Seattle, WA 98195-1016)

This project concerns the successful Ethiopian resistance to Italian colonization in the 1880s and 1890s. It is organized around the battle of Adwa in March of 1896: a stunning victory for Ethiopian forces but a rout and a disaster for Italy. Adwa is deeply interesting in its own terms because Ethiopia is the only African country successfully to resist European colonization before 1914. However, it is Adwa's global context that makes the story compelling because Adwa--the story of Africans seeing to their own freedom--played out against a background of almost unrelenting European expansion into Africa and it resonated powerfully in post-Emancipation America where hierarchies of race and ethnicity were only beginning a process of challenge and renegotiation. The story of Adwa is visually rich and I see this project as an extension of my recent work on nationalism and visual culture into a transnational context, where the projection of nationalism was not only punctuated by violence but complicated by race. The overall objective is to tell the story of the battle of Adwa, through text and images, as the founding event in the history of modern Ethiopia, as a signal event in relations between Europe and Africa in the age of high empire, and as a touchstone in the global history of relations between peoples of European and African descent.

Associated Products

The Battle of Adwa: African Victory in the Age of Empire (Book)
Title: The Battle of Adwa: African Victory in the Age of Empire
Abstract: In March 1896 a well-disciplined and massive Ethiopian army did the unthinkable—it routed an invading Italian force and brought Italy’s war of conquest in Africa to an end. In an age of relentless European expansion, Ethiopia had successfully defended its independence and cast doubt upon an unshakable certainty of the age—that sooner or later all Africans would fall under the rule of Europeans. This event opened a breach that would lead, in the aftermath of world war fifty years later, to the continent’s painful struggle for freedom from colonial rule.
Year: 2011
Primary URL:
Primary URL Description: Permalink at Harvard University Press
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Type: Single author monograph
ISBN: 9780674052741