- From the Editors
This issue marks the start of the 35th year of publication of Northeast African Studies. We are pleased that contributors and readers from many academic disciplines continue to view NEAS as a leading forum for sharing research and commentary on a variety of topics of historical and contemporary significance in Northeast Africa. Since assuming the editorship of the journal in 2011, we have produced two issues per year with input from our international editorial board and stalwart editorial and financial support from Michigan State University Press. We have published four special issues—on the production and use of Ethiopian archives, translocal connections across the Red Sea world, Ethiopian modernity and modernism, and contested memories and the State in Northeast Africa—and more than a dozen additional articles, book reviews, and memorial tributes to distinguished scholars who have passed away in recent years.
NEAS had its origin as Ethiopianist Notes (1977–79), and while scholarship from and on Ethiopia continues to fill a substantial proportion of our pages, we believe that NEAS has lived up to its title as a publication committed to the entire region. Over the past three years alone we have published contributions on Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Kenya, Djibouti, Eritrea, and the Red Sea/Indian Ocean arena. Going forward, we envision Northeast African Studies as a journal which not only keeps its readers informed of research on all the countries in the region but which also regularly addresses issues of comparative and transnational scope. [End Page v]
The present issue nicely illustrates the wide range of disciplines, source materials, and subject matter covered by our contributors. In addition to Kindeneh Endeg Mihretie’s close case study of a theological dispute within the Ethiopian Church (with much larger ramifications for the history of religion in Ethiopia), and Getachew Meressa Nigus’s inside look at the turbulent history of the Haile Selassie Military Museum (whose shifting fortunes mirrored the changing political landscape of postimperial Ethiopia), we include a contribution by Serge Elie on qāt consumption in Soqotra, which adds fresh insights to the lively debate over that commodity’s growing impact on the economic, social, and cultural life of northeast Africa. Awet Weldemichael reexamines the complex and shifting strategies which informed relations between Eritrea’s EPLF and Ethiopia’s TPLF movements in their parallel struggles against the Derg: their hesitant alliance produced victories in their own countries but left an uneasy legacy for interstate relations in the post-Derg era. While the future of Ethiopian-Eritrean coexistence remains one of the region’s big question marks, Aaron Tesfaye’s timely study of the Nile Valley Basin Initiative leaves no doubt that every country in Northeast Africa has a vital stake in the region’s diminishing water resources as they strive to meet the challenges of development and demographic growth. On these and other critical issues raised in the pages of NEAS, we invite readers to contribute follow-up articles or shorter research reports to further the discussion and promote the exchange of ideas.
This issue also includes tributes to two eminent historians of Ethiopia who have recently passed away. Professors Taddesse Tamrat and Donald Crummey not only produced seminal studies on a wide range of topics in, respectively, medieval and early modern/modern Ethiopian history—they also were instrumental in laying the institutional foundations of contemporary Ethiopian studies, both in Ethiopia and overseas. Shiferaw Bekele’s and Shumet Sishagne’s remembrances stand as a reminder of the remarkable personal and professional impact these two scholars had on several generations of young historians. They leave us with the challenge of carrying on in that same spirit of scholarly integrity, intellectual generosity, and collegial and institutional responsibility to those who follow. We dedicate this issue to their memory. [End Page vi]