Anthropology Professor Awarded Fulbright Teaching Fellowship at Ethiopian University

 

Addis Abab, October 6, [ras] – Professor Elliot Fratkin of the anthropology department has been awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to work at Hawassa University of Ethiopia between October of this year and June 2012. His wife, Dr. Martha Nathan, has been awarded a Fulbright Specialist award, also to work at the University of Hawassa.

“I have conducted research as an anthropologist for 35 years with nomadic pastoralists on the Kenya-Ethiopian border, but Hawassa is a very different area,” said Fratkin. “It is the main coffee-growing area of Ethiopia, located about five hours south of the capital of Addis Ababa. While there are some pastoral cattle-keeping people here, it is mainly small-scale farmers. I really look forward to working there.”

Fratkin has previously taught on a Fulbright Scholarship at the University of Asmara in Eritrea.

“This is mainly a ‘teaching’ Fulbright Fellowship where I will be offering courses including the Anthropology of Development and Human Ecology,” continued Fratkin. “There will be large classes, with smart and eager students, but who have very limited resources. There will be no Moodle page, no Google groups, [and] even copying papers will be a challenge. When I offer a reading, I must hand out one copy to one student, who then shares it with the other 60 students in the class.”

According to Fratkin, both he and Nathan wanted to work in Ethiopia, and Hawassa University had requested through the Fulbright program an anthropologist to teach courses in development studies and ecology, which are Fratkin’s specialties. Nathan will also be teaching in the University of Hawassa Medical School while working in the pediatrics clinic in their hospital. Fratkin explained that one out of 10 children die before their fifth birthday in Ethiopia, although it was twice that figure in 1990, making childcare an incredibly important priority in these hospitals.

Fratkin emphasized the cooperative nature of the Fulbright as an opportunity for increased international understanding.

“As a U.S. Fulbright Scholar, I am expected to uphold the ideals of my country, to demonstrate friendship and cooperation with my host country and to be of tangible service to my host country. I intend to do all that,” said Fratkin.

He also emphasized his devotion and debt to those African countries that have made possible his research and development as a scholar.

“This Fulbright in Ethiopia, like my one in Eritrea in 2003, is to teach,” said Fratkin. “It is an opportunity to pay back some of what I owe to African people, who directly helped me in my research and subsequent career as a Smith professor. I consider teaching in Ethiopia as partial payback for all that I have gained studying and living in African countries. I also have to say it will be fun living with another culture again.”

Fratkin’s fieldwork memoir Laibon: An Anthropologist’s Journey with Samburu Diviners in Kenya will be published this month by AltaMira Press.

 

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