Discover the new course on Ethiopian language & culture

On the occasion of 150 years having passed since its foundation, the Ca' Foscari University of Venice is adding one additional language to the many already taught, confirming its excellence in the linguistic field, which has long been an integral part of the University's tradition; over 40 languages and cultures are featured in its course catalogue.

Starting in the 2018/2019 academic year, the University will be offering all undergraduate students the opportunity to attend an introductory course on the language and culture of Ethiopia.

The course, organized by the Department of Asian and North African Studies, will be activated in the second semester by Professor Mellese Gelaneh Alemu from Bahir Dar University.

The syllabus will include a review of the languages and cultures of Ethiopia, cultural considerations, Ethiopian writing, and basic elements of Amharic.

This course, which will introduce students to the history, culture, and official language of Ethiopia, constitutes an important step in Ca' Foscari’s deepening quest for knowledge about the African continent. Ethiopia, in fact, is historically and culturally the most important country in sub-Saharan Africa. Since the first millennium B.C., the Ethiopian plateau has seen the formation of important states where external players heavily influenced the local sphere, coming mainly from Egypt and Ancient Arabia. Starting from the fourth century A.D., Ethiopia has primarily, if not exclusively, adopted the Christian religion, and constitutes a fundamental component of the Christian East. Throughout the centuries, the nation has experienced considerable political development, to the extent that a vast multiethnic empire has been built, along with an original brand of civilization enriched by various external influences, in particular those of Arabs, Jews and Europeans.  Ethiopian architecture, art, and literature indeed constitute an extraordinary cultural heritage.

From a political point of view, the country initially resisted Arab and Ottoman expansion – which nevertheless led to a consistent Muslim presence – and then European colonial penetration, at least until the short period of Italian conquest during the fascist era. From this point of view, Ethiopia is a unique case on the African continent and it is no accident that its capital - Addis Ababa - is the headquarters of the African Union.

Today Ethiopia is one of the most developed African countries and constitutes one of the main economic and political centers on the continent, with a population that is now around 100 million. The official language of Ethiopia, Amharic, belongs to the Semitic group and is therefore of particular interest to students of Arabic and Hebrew. The course - which will be held in English - is in any case addressed to all those students who want to familiarize themselves with the historical and cultural dynamics of the African continent, which is such a crucial player in the international scenario of our time.

The activation of this new course is part of a series of initiatives aimed to further scientific study and teaching of the African continent.

For more information please visit the related course page: