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Thesis Format



Doctor of Philosophy



Collaborative Specialization

Migration and Ethnic Relations


Dr. Stephanie Bangarth


King's University College

2nd Supervisor

Dr. Robert Wardaugh


In his exploration of overlapping territories and intertwined histories, Edward Said declares “appeals to the past, are among the commonest of strategies in interpretations of the present.” Ethiopians and other interrelated Horn-of-African groups living in the Diaspora embody the tenets of Said’s argument. This observation led to a search for modalities to interpret the meanings of how and why this was the case. In response to this phenomenon, this research sought to ascertain the nexus between personal, cultural and national histories when reading contemporary expressions of Ethiopian identities. Utilizing a mixed methods approach, this dissertation examines the historical roots of contemporary representations of Ethiopians and other interrelated identities in Canada. Oral histories, Canadian archival records and other forms of representation are examined in this thesis to discern the roots of an Ethiopian identity premised on a legacy of historical visibility. Roots of the most prevalent self-ascribed and super-imposed representations and perceptions of Ethiopia and Ethiopians are situated within an intersecting Canadian and Ethiopian historical framework.

Hallmark representations of Ethiopian identities evidenced in Canadian society are contextualized through the identification and examination of four key points of intersection in Ethiopian and Canadian history in the twentieth century. The four major catalysts for the permeation of Ethiopian identity chronicled are: the Abyssinian Crisis and Italo-Ethiopian War (1934-36), Ethiopian participation at Expo 67 (1967), the African/Ethiopian famine of 1984-88, and Ethiopian Migration and Settlement in Canada (1974- present). A macro, meso and micro framework of analysis is applied to each period to demonstrate the prevalence of representations.

As an exclusively Canadian case study, this dissertation demonstrates the ways in which Ethiopia and representative symbols of Ethiopian history and identity were highly visible within an interpretive framework of both world and Canadian history. In conjunction with existing scholarship and paradigms of Ethiopian studies globally (classical, literary, political and religious), this dissertation historicizes the Canadian manifestations of various signifiers and perceptions of Ethiopian identities throughout the twentieth century. This dissertation contributes to the existing scholarship on Ethiopians and

other interrelated Africans in Canada. It also contributes to studies on migration, identity and Canada-Africa relations more broadly.


Canada-Africa relations, Ethiopians in Canada, Habesha in Canada, History of Ethiopian Representation, Italo-Ethiopian War, Expo 67, Ethiopian Famine, Oral History, Migration and Identity, Second Generation Horn-of-Africa Youth, Ethiopian Food, Canadian Culture, Canadian Politics, Africa and The Commonwealth, Africa and La Francophonie

Summary for Lay Audience

The increased migration and settlement of Ethiopians in Canada after 1984 facilitated the prevalence of self-representation by Ethiopians and other inter-related identities in Canada. When interpreting contemporary representations of Ethiopian and other interrelated identities in Canada, this dissertation illustrates that it is imperative to have some contextual knowledge of the political and cultural history of the Horn-of-Africa region, and Canada’s relationship to it. Through an intersecting examination of Canadian and Ethiopian history, this dissertation locates when and how Ethiopians first penetrated the Canadian imagination. At its core, this project sought to find the answers to the following interrelated questions: Who are the Ethiopians in Canada? What does the existing scholarship say about them and why? Why and how do Ethiopians and other interrelated members of the Diaspora continue to perpetually invoke their historical legacy after migration and settlement abroad? Is there a correlation between Ethiopian migration and prevalent mainstream representations of Ethiopians and other Africans in Canada? What narratives do forms of self-representation by Ethiopians tell? How is this narrative different than the one that is perceived by mainstream Canadian society? Is there evidence of the claim to Ethiopian historical visibility and pertinence hidden within Canadian archives and other repositories of social memory?
This dissertation proves that Ethiopians were present in the Canadian imagination, long before the first Ethiopian migrant was recorded in the immigration statistics of the nation.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Available for download on Tuesday, April 30, 2024