Cover

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Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-vi

Table of Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Foreword

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pp. ix-xiii

Ever since the Neolithic, we have left no stone unturned in distancing ourselves from other species, modifying our language, our laws, and our thoughts accordingly. A person is either he or she, an animal is it, we have thoughts, they have instincts, we have language, they have vocalizations, we have culture, they just run around in the woods, doing whatever it is they do, and so forth. During this time, anthropology was invented, as was zoology, and both had no choice but to continue the traditions. We mammals have evolved more than five thousand species, and zoology is concerned with all but one...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xiv-xviii

I am eternally thankful to my wife, Tigist, for her hard work and support during the writing process. If not for her, I would have been a very hungry writer. I am also grateful to Nigel Rothfels for his boundless enthusiasm, encouragement, advocacy, and sage advice throughout. This book is far better for Nigel’s input and guidance. Thanks to Kendra Boileau at Penn State Press, not only for having faith in this project but for her encouragement, support, and critical reading of drafts at crucial times. The free rein given me by Kendra allowed me to explore some way-out ideas, some of which made it into this book. I should also thank the anonymous reviewer of my original manuscript, whose suggestions about intersubjectivity and becoming Other opened my eyes to a new perspective on my time in ...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-9

I followed the old man up a rickety staircase, taking care not to put too much weight on any steps that were split or rotten. He led me along a deteriorating hallway to room number 7. A second-floor room with a single-digit number is not unusual in Harar; the preceding number 1 had either fallen off or been unscrewed long ago, and its shadow had faded almost completely to the overall color of the door. The hotel clerk shoved it open and I dragged my bag through the doorway. I was greeted with an aesthetic slap in the face. There was a swarm of flies staging a circuit race beneath a ceiling fan that had ceased working when electricity was invented. The bed looked like it was stolen from an orphanage, after which time...

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Chapter 1: Past Finding Around Harar

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pp. 10-24

When I eventually emerged from my room, the clerk was waiting for me downstairs. He waved a hand toward the end of the landing under the veranda and said, “This is your guide.” The only person I could see was a man in a stained T-shirt and dusty jeans lying on the floor in front of room number something. As the man looked up at me, his eyes widened. I didn’t realize it at the time, but even on my meager university stipend, the asymmetries in per capita income between my own country and Ethiopia had rendered me among the wealthiest persons in Harar. What’s more, my white skin was like a close-fitting banner, advertising to one and all that not only did I have a lot of money but I was naïve about the town...

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Chapter 2: Lines of Reason for Hyenas

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pp. 25-35

The following day, I moved out of the Tewodros and checked in to the Ras Hotel, a little way up the road from Jugol. Looking down the dim, gray-painted corridors and across bare cement floors, I agreed entirely with the description of the Ras in the Lonely Planet guide: “a cross between a boarding school and a psychiatric institution.” 1 At the time, though, I thought that a little institutionalization could be just what I needed. Besides, the rooms had water, albeit a mere trickle from a cut-off pipe that only trickled between 6:00 and 9:00 a.m. Water, it turned out, was at a premium in Harar. There was a pipeline under construction that would one day draw water from an aquifer in Dire Dawa and send it via a pumping station ...

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Chapter 3: Between Different Relations

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pp. 36-46

I wanted to find out more about this practice of hyena feeding in Harar, so I arranged to meet up with a local journalist named Amir Ali Aqil. His office was a surreal sort of affair, a construction on the roof of the Tourism, Sport, and Culture Bureau, possibly the highest point in Jugol. Two sides were walled, while the other two were open to the elements, making paperweights an absolute necessity. We sat down on either side of his desk, and while kites and vultures swirled about behind our backs, Amir told me what he knew about hyena feeding. “Did you know Yusuf was attacked by a hyena when he was a child? But his father didn’t...

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Chapter 4: You Hyenas

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pp. 47-57

By the time the cool December winds were blowing into Harar, I’d been visiting the Sofi feeding place almost every night for two months. Things were working out. I was being made more and more welcome by Yusuf ’s family and becoming increasingly familiar with the Sofi hyenas who were regular attendees at the feeding. There was Koti, the dominant female of the clan, with a massive head on an equally massive neck. Whenever the feeding hyenas turned as one and looked over to the track leading into the feeding place before clearing a space in front of Yusuf, that was the sign that Koti had arrived. She usually came in the company of her...

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Chapter 5: The Legend of Ashura

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pp. 58-72

A long, long time ago, there was a terrible famine in Harar. The rains failed, the crops withered, livestock lay dead on parched soil, and people lay starving in the streets. At the same time, the hyenas had begun attacking people. Every night they came to the town and took the weak and dying, dragging them off to be eaten. The people of the town became frustrated and protested in the streets, marching with stones on their heads to represent the weight of the world that was oppressing them. They demanded that something be done. The town’s saints responded, and at their weekly meeting on Mount Hakim they decided that the...

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Chapter 6: On the Tail of a Hyena

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pp. 73-82

After Ashura, I really knuckled down and focused on my research. I constructed some questionnaires and, with the help of a translator from Haramaya University, conducted surveys in five villages west of Harar in Oromia State. Interestingly, the rural Oromo people held attitudes and beliefs about hyenas very similar to those of the Hararis. 1 This spoke of a flow of ideas across ethnic and stone divides. 2 This was even more the case in the Argobba village of Koromi, where they practically adored hyenas. They told me that if a hyena attacked a livestock animal, then they would have to leave out more food so he wouldn’t be as hungry next time. In Harar I recorded the events of the festival of Aw Aslahddin. Some women elders...

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Chapter 7: Encounters with the Unseen

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pp. 83-93

Nearly five months into my time in Harar, I was in my groove. I became increas- ingly familiar with the lanes in Jugol and navigated my way through the Old Town like a seasoned local. I bought khat daily from the khat market at Assumberi, where I bantered with Samira, my favorite khat lady. I spent my afternoons in one of half a dozen houses where I had an open invitation to burcha. Often, my hosts invited friends who could tell me meaningful things about hyenas, and I ended the afternoon with a full notebook. In the evening, I bought lentil sambusas from Fatiya, the sambusa lady at Argobberi, and took them to the feeding place, where I shared them with Abbas. 1 By this time, shopkeepers and market sellers knew me...

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Chapter 8: Reflections from a Hyena Playground

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pp. 94-102

My fifth month in Harar saw the arrival of a new hyena at the Sofi feeding place. He was about seven months old when he first arrived, sandy-colored, with his spots well established. What he found must have been, for a young hyena, a most surreal scene: a human, illuminated by vehicles and surrounded by other humans, sitting on the ground handing out food to hyenas. For many young hyenas, this scene was all too intimidating, so instead of getting involved, they lay down on the hill cloaked in secure darkness. They only ventured over to the feeding area when the people had gone away and the lights were out. This new arrival, though, succumbed to his fascination and joined his seniors at the feeding place, where...

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Chapter 9: Death, Death, and Rhetoric

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pp. 103-113

After only a few months in Harar, I’d become the go-to man for any hyena-related news coming out of the Hararge region. When a hyena was hit by a khat truck racing through Arattenya in the early morning, I was inspecting her body by 11:00 a.m. When a hyena in Dire Dawa ran into a police station, seeking refuge from stone-throwing children, I fielded three or four phone calls from people who told me all about it. The same with the wedding-sausage raid and any other hyena-related incidents. Hence when Oromia Radio reported that there had been a series of hyena attacks in Kombolcha, I was taking phone calls all morning. Nureddin was the first to tell me. “Marcus, have you heard the news of these hyena attacks?...

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Chapter 10: Blood of the Hyena

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pp. 114-126

Back in Harar, I was making good progress following hyenas around Jugol. At the same time, though, I was experiencing difficulties where I lived. My landlady’s partner, Faysal, was fond of khat. On arriving home from his farm midafternoon, he set himself up on a platform in the living room with a supply of water and khat, and there he remained until late at night. By about 10:00 p.m., he’d chewed enough khat to make him sufficiently paranoid to imagine a host of thieves, murderers, jinn, and hyenas gathering outside the compound, looking for an opportunity to get in. The lock on the compound gate required a key from both inside and outside, but this wasn’t enough to assuage Faysal’s fears. Perhaps hyenas could pick locks. So he slid a bolt into a recess in the wall, preventing access from outside...

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Chapter 11: Across a Human/Hyena Boundary

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pp. 127-135

The night of June 11 began like any other night in Harar. By 9:00 p.m. the hyenas were settled and waiting for the human traffic to die down before they entered Jugol. Spotted bodies lay scattered about the hill. I got up and went to Yusuf ’s compound to say good night to everyone before walking up the steep road to the Wesen Seged for a beer and a hiding place. I expected I should be back by 10:30 p.m. to catch the hyenas passing through the hyena holes. But Yusuf had guests—family from just north of Harar—and he invited me in to spend some time socializing. I sat and fumbled a conversation in my hack Oromo before saying my good-byes...

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Chapter 12: A Host of Other Ideas

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pp. 136-145

When the rainy season set in, bringing mist and lush green to Harar, I married Tigist. For five months she’d rejected my invitations to dinner or burcha, and had only agreed to a date when my Harari friend Aman interceded on my behalf. Tigist was different from anyone I’d known anywhere. She’d grown up in the remote high country of West Shewa, where honesty, integrity, and family loyalty formed the very basis of a person’s character. But she also had the will and determination of a moving continent. When she was sixteen years old and her father agreed to another family’s proposal that she marry their son, she chose to resist....

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Chapter 13: Returning to Other Hyenas

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pp. 146-158

My doubts about ever returning to Harar were quickly overturned by the Australian immigration department, which refused Tigist a visitor visa. After only three months in Australia, I flew back to Ethiopia to be with Tigist while we waited on the outcome of our application for a marriage visa. We paid a quick visit to Tigist’s family in West Shewa and then took a bus across the Rift back to Harar. While I was away, Tigist had been staying with a friend of ours named Arianna, an Italian NGO worker who had a house in Jugol. Arianna was tall, blonde, and stylish, with designer eyewear and a purebred retriever. These kinds of attributes are a poor fit for Harar. Frustrated by the apathy and intransigence of the Hararis,...

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Chapter 14: Talking Up Hyena Realities

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pp. 159-168

I felt glad to be back with the hyenas in Harar, although I was spending more time with them at the garbage dump in the morning than in the lanes at night. It was a little safer. I was also thinking ahead to writing a dissertation. I had hundreds of hours of hyena observations, a stack of completed surveys from Harar and beyond, and hundreds of pages of notes from informal discussions. But as far as formal interviews went, and nice quotations that I could use to underline my findings, I had little. Returning to Harar after three months in Australia gave me a chance to rectify that, so I set about preparing for a series of formal interviews. I didn’t imagine that this could be all that difficult, but then Harar has a way of making the simplest task into an epic personal struggle....

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Chapter 15: Looking Through a Hyena Hole

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pp. 169-182

The garbage dump just outside Suqutatberi became something of a regular haunt in terms of my social relations with the Sofi hyenas. I went there in the morning before sunrise and spent time with the hyenas, waiting for the garbage truck to arrive with dumpster loads of fresh rubbish. By now, the regulars at the dump were almost completely unconcerned with me. They lifted their heads and looked when I arrived at the top of the dirt road leading down to the mounds of rubbish, but as soon as they recognized me they returned their chins to their carpals and continued staring straight ahead. Only Willi paid me more heed than that. Once I found a relatively clear, dry patch of ground and sat, Willi got up and ambled over. ...

Notes

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pp. 183-192

Bibliography

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pp. 193-198

Index

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pp. 199-214

Cover

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Photo Gallery

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