African Studies Seminar: The tree for living well: the socio-cultural significance of enset in southern Ethiopia

asc seminar week

Conveners: David Pratten and Miles Tendi

Speakers: Elizabeth Ewart (University of Oxford) & Wolde Tadesse (University of Oxford)

Enset (ensete ventricosum; Abyssinian banana), uniquely domesticated in Ethiopia, sustains upwards of 20 million people in southern Ethiopia. It also feeds a sizeable animal population and is in turn nurtured by both animals and people.

In this paper we trace some of the relations of co-dependence and mutual sustenance that characterize enset within Ethiopian highland agricultural systems. We further suggest that the idea of ‘sustenance’ be expanded beyond idioms of food and feeding, to incorporate aesthetics as well as relations to the earth and land.