Osvaldo Costantini researching and teaching in Sudan and Ethiopia

25 September 2017

Osvaldo Costantini, anthropologist working at FBK-ISR as a visiting researcher, spent 10 days in Khartoum (Sudan) and one week in Ethiopia for research and teaching reasons.

In the Sudanese city he completed a pathway of research about marriage and migratory strategies acted by an Eritrean family, since he was wedding witness in the marriage party of one of their sons living in Sweden, who decided to get married with a girl from his neighborhood in Asmara who has been living in Khartoum since 2 years. Osvaldo Costantini lived ten days with all the family members invited to participate and hosted in a flat in the periphery of the city.

He collected data about:

  • wedding norms variation stemming from life in Diaspora and the change in the family hierarchy;
  • long-distance marriage arrangement;
  • the creation of the image of “the successful migrant” built upon gifts to the family.

In Ethiopia Osvaldo Costantini was part of the teaching staff for the summer school organized at the University of Mekelle (Tigray – Etiopia, August 17th-September 6th), in collaboration with Sapienza – University of Rome, on the basis of the activities of the Italian Ethnological Mission in Tigray-Ethiopia . He taught a course (10 hours divided across 4 days) on Eritrean migration and the role of religion in the Eritrean Diaspora, with a focus on social and cultural innovations brought about by religion, within and outside their homeland. The first lesson reviewed the recent history of Eritrea, shedding light on the most important elements that influenced the present of Eritrea and pushed Eritreans to create a “culture of migration”. The second lesson described the wider picture of religion in the Horn of Africa, underlining the historical relationships between religion and political power. The third lesson was concentrated on the role played by the Eritrean Pentecostal Church in Rome, focusing on its own discourses around migration, borders, and inequalities. The fourth and final lesson figured out theoretical discourse about the role of religion in society, emphasizing its capacity to innovate, which can be also a guiding force in political change and ideology, starting from some reflection about the relationship between Pentecostalism and Revolutionary Nationalism  in Eritrea.

In this way, the lessons intertwined 3 of the 4 research lines of ISR-FBK:

  • Conflicts: he analyzed the way by which the religious field became the battlefield for issues regarding the wider society and the interpretation of the history;
  • Spirituality and Lifestyles: the specific “patterns of subjectivation” shaped by the different Eritrean religious congregations have been read as the outcome of spiritual and material needs of that society, as well as elements upon which they can construct horizons of reference beyond precariousness and temporariness;
  • Texts, Doctrines and Traditions: the different theological interpretation of the religious congregations on the field were object of the lessons.
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