Refashioning the Ethiopian monarchy in the twentieth century: An intellectual history

Sara Marzagora*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
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This article traces the shift in the Ethiopian monarchical ideology from lineage as symbolic Christian filiation to dynasty as a political genealogy of sovereign power. From the end of the nineteenth century, and more prominently under Haylä Səllase, Ethiopian state sources started qualifying the Ethiopian ruling dynasty as ‘unbroken’ in history. A record of ‘uninterrupted’ power allowed the Ethiopian government to politically appropriate past glories and claim them as ‘ours’, thus compensating for the political weakness of the present with the political greatness of the past. The ideological rebranding of the Ethiopian monarchy in the 1930s brought Ethiopia closer to Japan, and the ‘eternalist clause’ of the Meiji constitution offered a powerful model of how to recodify dynasty in modern legal terms. An intellectual history of dynasty in the Ethiopian context sees the concept simultaneously associated with both hegemonic and counter-hegemonic political projects. The narratives of continuity enabled by the dynastisation of history were successful in invigorating the pro-Ethiopian front during the Italian occupation of Ethiopia (1936–1941), but served at the same time to reinforce domestic mechanisms of class, political and cultural domination.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)533-557
Number of pages25
JournalGlobal Intellectual History
Issue number3
Early online date29 Jul 2020
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jul 2022


  • Dynastic nationalism
  • Ethiopian history
  • Ethiopian monarchy
  • Ethiopian nationalism
  • Solomonic dynasty
  • Solomonic myth


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