This paper discusses the decline of traditional pottery making in rural southwestern Ethiopia and its causes and looks at the potters’ responses to socio-economic and cultural shocks that have been instigated by the decline. Pottery making in southwestern Ethiopia forms a distinct female-only occupational identity, and potters are socially marginalized and forced into endogamous social groups. Recent government land policies have limited their already meager access to clay resources, while imported plastic and enamel objects offer comparative advantages over locally made ceramics. However, potters have not passively accepted the shocks brought about by the land policy and the influx of imported objects. Instead, they have devised strategies to obtain clay and have included imported foreign objects into their technology, despite the fact that these new objects are not part of their technological traditions.
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- pottery making
- rural women
- social practices