Coffee and the State in Rural Ethiopia

Sarah Howard

Abstract


Coffee drinking is fundamental to social life in Ethiopia. Based on research in eastern Amhara Region between 2011 and 2015, this paper explores the omnipresent buna ceremony during which coffee is prepared and served, and its role in the lives of rural government workers as an occasion for building group solidarity as protection against the hardships they face. While Ethiopian society is commonly portrayed as highly authoritarian and hierarchical, this ethnographic account of the social lives of low-level officials complicates the picture of a strict divide between state and society, and is a contribution to calls for attention to the ways in which material practices continually constitute the state as a reality.

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Anthropology Matters Journal ISSN: 17586453 Publisher: Anthropology Matters url: www.anthropologymatters.com