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Haunting and Holding onto the Fragments of the Past: Historical Memory and the Body in the Face of State Violence in Ethiopia

Young su Park
Date and Time: 
Monday, April 10, 2017 - 12:30

Department of Anthropology
Main Quad - Building 50
Room 51A (Colloquium Room)


Historical memories of the Aanolee massacre in 1886 haunt the current state of emergency and nationwide protests in Ethiopia.  In 2014, a monument of an amputated arm was erected at Aanolee by the ruling regime to cultivate ethnic hatred for political ethnicization.  The images of the amputated body mediate haunting historical memories at both experiential and symbolic levels.  Despite the government’s efforts to antagonize ethnic groups, Oromo transformed the meaning of haunting memories and space of Aanolee into new political subjectivities by uniting with other ethnic groups against the current political violence.  In this haunting, the historical trauma differs from the medical trauma because it has an opposite effect: instead of making victims helpless and embittered, it facilitates alternative political action and imagination by recasting implications of historical memories of the massacre. This phenomenon brings bodily dimensions to current anthropological understanding of “hauntology” in light of embodied history.


Young su was a physician for socially underrepresented people in South Korea: prisoners, North Korean refugees, and undocumented migrants. His past works involves researches on healthcare system for undocumented migrants, cultural adjustment of North Korean refugee doctors, North Korean psychiatry, and illness experiences of Korean Chinese migrant workers in South Korea. At Stanford, Young su aims to understand motivations, limitations and consequences of South Korean global health projects in Ethiopia. It seeks to explain how global health projects are shaped by ideas and experiences related to time such as development, historical memories, religion, family cycles, and daily lives. His project contributes to critical understanding of global health from the lens of time: histories and temporalities. It will also illuminate unexpected characteristics of Asian modernities that have been reflected in the Korean global health and development projects in Ethiopia. Young su received his M.D. in 2008, an M.A. in Anthropology in 2012 from Seoul National University, and an M.A. in Anthropology in 2014 from Stanford University.