Little Ethiopia of the Pacific Northwest
Little Ethiopia of the Pacific Northwest tells the story of the Ethiopian community in Seattle. The community began with approximately two dozen college students who came to the city during the Ethiopian revolution of 1974. These sojourning students earned college and university degrees, but were unable to return home to use them to modernize the developing nation. These stranded students became pioneers who built a micro-community in inner-city Seattle.
Providing background with an analysis of Seattle’s geographic, demographic, social, and economic challenges, this volume studies the students who became asylum seekers; their falls in position, power, prestige; and the income of these elite and non-elite settlers. The authors analyze examples of those who became entrepreneurs and the ingenuity and determination they employed to start successful businesses.
The authors examine the challenges imposed on them by a school system that assigned their children to grade levels according to age rather than knowledge. They explore how the American welfare system worked in practice and explain how and why Ethiopians die young in Seattle. This fascinating study will be of interest to sociologists, ethnographers, and regional analysts.
“Little Ethiopia will appeal most to those who want to better understand the conditions in the Horn of Africa that continue to produce a refugee crisis for the international community, as well as to those who are interested in what life is like for African immigrants who are undergoing the challenges of resettlement in the Pacific Northwest.”
—Robin Hardy, Pacific Northwest Quarterly
“[Little Ethiopia of the Pacific Northwest] gives the reader a taste of a new migration that will have impacts we can’t forsee. . . . This book is a valuable part of the story of our ongoing transformation.”
—Jerry Large, Seattle Times
“A modern ethnography with the skill, depth, scope and precision of the classic legendary ethnographies of the Chicago School of Sociology . . . A careful social scientific narrative of the customs of multiple waves of Ethiopian immigrants to Seattle and the ensuing and evolving Ethiopian American culture resulting from a dialectical clash between traditional and patriarchal Ethiopian ethos and mores and modern popular culture in the United States—an instant classic.”
—Anthony J. Cortese, Southern Methodist University
“Joseph W. Scott and Solomon Getahun have offered us a richly textured ethnographic analysis of a little-studied but nonetheless important group. Their target population was comprised of roughly 10,000 Ethiopian immigrants to the Northwestern United States, from which they have drawn a sample of approximately six dozen individuals living in the Seattle metro area. In-depth interviews are combined with the authors’ own participant and nonparticipant observations in order to provide readers with an initial understanding of this seldom investigated and hence poorly comprehended collection of ‘New Americans.’ For this reason Little Ethiopia of the Pacific Northwest invites a read.”
—Larry T. Reynolds, Professor Emeritus of Sociology, Central Michigan University
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Table of Contents
Organization of the Book
1 Seattle’s Challenges
2 From Sojourners to Asylum-Seekers
3 Falls from Grace
4 Entrepreneurs and Entrepreneurship
5 Schooling Their Children
6 Changing Husband-Wife Relations
7 Use and Abuse of Welfare
8 Victors and Vanquished
9 Starting Church Congregations
10 From Elation to Alienation
11 Dying and Memorializing
12 To Return or Not Return?