Whose development? The dilemma of rural artisan women in southwestern Ethiopia

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4 Scopus citations


This article examines the socio-economic situation of pottery-making households in southwestern Ethiopia. In this region, pottery production lies exclusively within the women's domain, and taboos and restrictions surrounding the practice prohibit male involvement. Potters are marginalized, banned from land ownership and sometimes form endogamous castes. Ethiopian development policy and the perception of indigenous pottery technology as ‘unproductive’ have threatened the continuity of the tradition and the livelihood of rural potters. Meanwhile, foreign-made plastic and enamel products are gradually replacing indigenous pottery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)20-23
Number of pages4
JournalAnthropology Today
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
I am very grateful to the southwestern Ethiopian rural potters, among whom this study was conducted. I genuinely appreciate their accommodating nature and their willingness to openly share both the satisfaction and the pain they have experienced as potters. I dedicate this article to my special fieldwork assistant, Hordofa Asana Seda Seda, who unfortunately passed away too early. I am also grateful to Abebe Dinega, Dejene Dandena and Ayana Getahun for helping me with the fieldwork. This project was funded by the National Geographic Society/Committee for Research and Exploration under Grant 9846‐16, the National Geographic Society/Waitt Grants under Grant W239‐12 and the University of Calgary Carter Fieldwork Grant.

Publisher Copyright:
© RAI 2020


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