First Advisor

José Padín

Date of Publication

Summer 8-26-2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Sociology






Oromo (African people) -- History, Minorities -- Ethiopia -- History, Oromo (African people) -- Politics and government -- History, Ethnicity, Indigenous peoples – Ethiopia, Ethiopia -- Ethnic relations



Physical Description

1 online resource (vi, 151 pages)


The Oromo people of Ethiopia share a common language, worldview, set of sacred meanings, and a historic system of governance. The rise of the Abyssinian Empire in the late 1800s led to the colonization of the Oromo; their language and religion were made illegal, their homeland was expropriated and renamed, and they were forced to live as slaves on their own land. After the end of the Abyssinian colonial era, historic discrimination was institutionalized into the new Ethiopian state form through the politicization of identities. Ethnic identities become political identities when cultural traits are used by the state as criteria for a differential allocation of rights. This thesis studies how the identity of the Oromo people (Oromumma) has been shaped over time by economic, political, and cultural dynamics of oppression and resistance, and how it has developed among Oromo in the diaspora. Field observations in Ethiopia and interviews of Oromo immigrants in the U.S. are the basis for the study. This thesis is a unique contribution to research of marginalized Indigenous populations living under a settler colonial state in that it examines the unusual case where both the oppressor and oppressed populations are African. It also makes a contribution to the literature understanding the politicization of Oromumma in Ethiopia and across the diaspora.


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