Anthropology as Homage

ISBN 978-3-89645-842-1

Anthropology as Homage

Festschrift for Ivo Strecker

Edited by: Felix Girke, Sophia Thubauville, Wolbert G.C. Smidt. With a preface by: Thomas Bierschenk. With contributions by: Jon Abbink, Balambaras Aike Berinas, Vincenzo Cannada Bartoli, Marco Bassi, Judith Beyer, Michael Carrithers, Jérôme Dubosson, Susanne Epple, James Fernandez, Stephan Feuchtwang, Echi Christina Gabbert, Felix Girke, Robert Hariman, Karl-Heinz Kohl, Shauna LaTosky, E. Douglas Lewis, David MacDougall, Christian Meyer, Mitiku Gabrehiwot, Chikage Oba-Smidt, Philippe-Joseph Salazar, Gianmarco Salvati, Bernhard Streck, Sophia Thubauville, Serge Tornay, Stephen A. Tyler, Yohannes Yitbarek Ejigu. Series edited by: Thomas Bierschenk, Heike Drotbohm, Matthias Krings, Carola Lentz, Nico Nassenstein, Anja Oed, Markus Verne.

Series: MBA Mainzer Beiträge zur Afrikaforschung Volume 41

447 pp.
37 colour photos, 14 b/w photos, 2 b/w aerial photos, 4 colour diagrams, 3 colour figures, 9 drawings, 3 tables
Text language(s): English, German
€ 69.80

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This volume celebrates the life and work of the anthro­pologist Ivo Strecker, who has studied with the Hamar of southern Ethiopia since 1969. Through this decades long engagement, as well as his ethnographic films and his work in spearheading the international Rhetorical Culture Project, Ivo has been highly influential, both in advancing anthropological theory and encouraging nu­merous students to commit to fieldwork in and around Hamar. While alluding to various facets of Ivo’s syn­thetic thinking and his unique personality, the contri­butions to this Festschrift also make important state­ments on fieldwork, visual anthropology, rhetoric, and other fields that relate to his œuvre.


Thomas Bierschenk: Preface

Section 1 – Barjo Äla

Felix Girke: A Homage to an Anthropologist, a Homage to Anthropology, and Anthropology as Homage to Cultural Ingenuity

Yohannes Yitbarek Ejigu: Ivo at Arba Minch University – A Fortuitous Arrangement and its Prehistory

Baldambe (Balambaras Aike Berinas): Greetings to the Children in Berlin (1974)

Section 2 – Anamo

James Fernandez: “With Our Tongues in Our Cheeks” – Ethnographic Familiarity and the Work of Friendship in an Age of Irony

Stephan Feuchtwang: Is Ivo Hamar? Some Fond Reflections

Philippe-Joseph Salazar: Roteiro rhétorique de Joe Buck – En souvenir d’une rencontre à Memphis, avec Ivo

Serge Tornay: Mai 1973 – Souvenir d’une rencontre avec Ivo Strecker en pays kara, sur la rive est de l’Omo

David MacDougall: Camera and Eye

E. Douglas Lewis: The Limits of Interpretation – A Meditation on the Seen and Unseen in a Photograph of Stephen A. Tyler

Section 3 – Misso

Karl-Heinz Kohl: Nomadismus, Heimat und das Gelobte Land

Christian Meyer: The Grammar of Practice – Structure, Agency, and their Social-Theoretical Middle

Stephen A. Tyler: The Pluralization of Discourse and the Decline of General Persuasion

Section 4 – Bel

Robert Hariman: Finding the Yes in No – Persistence, Astonishment, Resonance, and Abundance in Ivo’s World

Shauna LaTosky: Visual Rhetoric and the Case of “Striking Bracelets” in Mun (Mursi)

Michael Carrithers: How to Open a World 1 – Humanism as Method

Section 5 – Kanna

Jon Abbink: The Religious Soundscape of Ethiopia – “Noise” Production between Sacred and the Secular Spaces

Marco Bassi: Prophecy and Apocalypse among the Oromo-Borana – The Power of Chiasmus

Judith Beyer: On the Usefulness of Symbolization Theory for Legal Anthropology

Vincenzo Cannada Bartoli: “You Will See How We Are Lying to You” – Talking with Jean and Ivo

Bernhard Streck: Interpretatio Indigena – Translating Indigenous Translations

Section 6 – Tamari Nanna

Susanne Epple: Impeding Rites, Restoring Rights – The Refusal of Ritual Participation in Bashada, Southern Ethiopia

Echi Christina Gabbert / Gino Ballo: Vignette on Panthera pardus – A Fable from Arbore

Felix Girke: “Heritage Behaviour”, “Validating Attention” and the Camera in Southern Ethiopia

Sophia Thubauville: Another Topic Please! Disquiet about Transgender in Ethiopia

Section 7 – Yeskenna

Jérôme Dubosson: Cattle Horn-Shaping – A Millennium Tradition amongst North-Eastern African Pastoralists

Mitiku Gabrehiwot: A Conversation in the Dark – Ivo Strecker in Addi Gudom, Tigray

Chikage Oba-Smidt: Insult and Self-Aggrandizement in Boorana Heroic Rhetoric

Gianmarco Salvati: Qebele 16 – The Ambiguous Agora of Mekelle


Publications by Ivo Strecker


About the editors:

Felix Girke is a social/cultural anthropologist who has been researching southern Ethiopia since 2003 and Myanmar since 2012.

Sophia Thubauville is a social/cultural anthropologist at the Frobenius Institute in Frankfurt/Main. She has worked in southern Ethiopia since 2002.

Wolbert Smidt is a historical anthropologist at the Research Centre Gotha and Associate Professor in Eth­no­history at Mekelle University, Ethiopia.

Under this link you will find further festschrifts and  obituary editions for renowned scholars published in our programme.

Accompanying material:



On occasion of the seventy-eighth birthday of Ivo Strecker, Felix Girke, Sophia Thubauville, and Wolbert Smidt edited a long overdue Festschrift to honour his scientific merits in the fields of Ethiopian ethnography (especially of the Hamär ethnic group), rhetoric, and visual anthropology (e.g. MacDougall, pp. 107–114; LaTosky, pp. 199–223; Streck, pp. 317–332), as well as teaching. The Festschrift is seen as a homage to the fascinating personality of Ivo Strecker as a researcher, anthropologist, and teacher, but also as homage to the people he lives with. The Festschrift is an opportunity to give attention to Ivo Strecker and his life and work. Doing research and finding out new aspects of Hamär cultural life — and letting others know — is where he is entirely at home. This is demonstrated by the picture on the book cover showing Strecker demonstrably happy in the company of his main Hamär informant and friend, Baldambe, at Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz.

The editors found a meaningful way to structure the Festschrift by forming chapters according to the Hamär social categories of anamo, misso, bel, kanna, tamari nanna, and yeskenna, meaning ‘age mates’, ‘hunting friends’, ‘bond-friends’, ‘junior siblings’, ‘students’, and ‘sister sons’. The twenty-five articles of these chapters are preceded by a Preface by Thomas Bierschenk, giving biographical information on Ivo Strecker, and an introductory chapter with the headline barjo äla, which means ‘call for good fortune’, and comprises three articles introducing different aspects of Strecker’s research approach identifying it as an ‘anthropology of homage’ (Felix Girke, pp.19–27). It also renders impressions of his teachings in Ethiopia (Yohannes Yitbarek Ejigu, pp. 29–36), and allows one to hear the voice of his Hamär friend Baldambe. The Appendix lists Ivo Strecker’s publications. Most of the contributions are written in English with two exceptions in French by Philippe-Joseph Salazar (pp. 79–89) and Serge Tornay (pp. 91–105), and one in German by Karl-Heinz Kohl (pp. 137–148). The book is illustrated by many photographs, mainly showing Ivo Strecker either in the field or teaching.

Many articles relate personal encounters between the respective author and Ivo Strecker, such as Stephan Feuchtwang who tries to find out if Ivo is Hamär (pp. 73–78). Another aspect is his relation to people noted by Mitiku Gabrehiwot (pp. 409–413). Everybody wishes to tell of a personal story of their own connection to Ivo Strecker. Thus, for me personally, as one of Ivo Strecker’s students, writing a book review of this particular Festschrift is not easy. While reading the articles, memories come to mind of the travels to South Omo and the shared experiences and adventures, such as the journey we made for the exhibition project on Hamär material culture at the University of Mainz in 1995, illustrated by the picture on page 334. This followed Ivo Strecker’s ‘idea of combining classroom discussions with field excursions and visits’, as stated by Yohannes Yitbarek Ejigu (p. 29). Our last meeting was in 2017 at the South Omo Research Centre in Ginka, a place Ivo Strecker created to focus on the cultural diversity of southern Ethiopia. Ivo Strecker is a fieldworker mit Haut und Haar (‘with skin and hair’, Bierschenk, p. 11), who does not distinguish between the professional and private sphere (‘he used his own money’, Yohannes Yitbarek Ejigu, p. 32), and expects the same of his students. His methods are unconventional at times, not geared to given patterns of thinking, nor ignoring the, at times, clearly political dimensions of the information one receives as a researcher. His research is a manifestation of his appreciation of the research region — anthropology as homage. He carried out most of his fieldwork with his anthropologist wife, Jean Lydall, who merits a Festschrift of her own. Ivo Strecker likes a creative surrounding, that inspires the participants and creates new ideas. He does not keep his insights to himself but discusses them with others, sharing his passion, enthusiasm, and commitment. It is impossible not to become personal when writing about Ivo Strecker, which gives me the feeling I am writing another contribution to the Festschrift rather than a review. The texts of friends, scholars, and companions gathered in this volume provide — aside from the very personal impression and dedication to Ivo — alot of interesting and valuable information on the diverse cultural backgrounds of various regions of Ethiopia and beyond. To take just a few examples, I would like to mention the articles of Susanne Epple, Echi Gabbert, Felix Girke, and Sophia Thubauville, some of Ivo’s tamari nanna. Susanne Epple (pp. 337–350) describes the finding of new details and contexts in her long-term research in the Bäšada region, an understanding for frequently observed phenomena. In Echi Christina Gabbert’s article (pp. 351–355) about a fable from Arbore, the voice of a local person, Ginno Ballo, can be directly heard (just as Baldambe and others are heard in Ivo Strecker’s publications). Felix Girke (pp. 357–371) reflects on the role of anthropologists, tourists, and the camera in southern Ethiopia. This is what all Ivo Strecker’s students have learned to be sensitive and aware of: ‘ethnographic fieldwork requires the negotiation of social roles between the fieldworkerand his or her interlocutors, which in turn needs to be reflected upon for the positionality and perspective it creates’ (Bierschenk, p. 11). We learned to unfold our methods, results, and failures, like Sophia Thubauville (pp. 373–383) describes in her research project on transgender in Maale.

Nagaya (Hamär greeting, ‘a wish for well-being’) to Ivo Strecker.

Alke Dohrmann in Aethiopica, 23/2020, 269-271

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