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The Dats’in: historical experience and cultural identity of an undocumented indigenous group of the Sudanese-Ethiopian borderland

AuthorsHernando Gonzalo, Almudena; González-Ruibal, Alfredo ; Derara Megenassa, Worku
KeywordsEthiopia, Sudan
‘Deep rural’ societies
Indigenous minorities
Nilo-Saharan languages
Pre-colonial history
Issue Date11-Jun-2019
PublisherTaylor & Francis
CitationJournal of Eastern African Studies 13(3): 504-524 (2019)
AbstractThe Dats’in are an indigenous minority group living on the Sudanese-Ethiopian borderland. They passed unnoticed to researchers, administrators and the wider world until 2013, when the authors of this paper met them in the lowlands of Qwara (NW Ethiopia). They speak an undocumented Nilo-Saharan language, related to Gumuz, and share important cultural and social traits with other indigenous communities in the area, while at the same time remaining clearly distinct. Dats’in history, which is related to that of the so-called Hamej peoples–the blanket name by which they are known to other groups–can be traced back several centuries through oral traditions, texts and archaeology. The Hamej, in fact, played a crucial role during the Funj Sultanate (1504–1821) and probably before. The present article is based on three field seasons carried out in the lowlands of Qwara (Ethiopia), one of the areas where they live today, and intends to offer some insights into their history and culture. They exemplify well the multifaceted relations between small-scale and State societies that have characterized the last millennium in the Sudanese-Ethiopian borderland.
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/17531055.2019.1628364
Identifiersdoi: 10.1080/17531055.2019.1628364
e-issn: 1753-1063
issn: 1753-1055
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