Anchote (Coccinia abyssinica): A Tuber Viewed as a Relative of Women in the Wallaga Region of Southwestern Ethiopia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This paper discusses the cultivation, harvesting and consumption of anchote and examines the social and environmental factors that frame the practice. Anchote, an indigenous tuber crop propagated by seed, is primarily cultivated for its edible tubers. In addition to forming part of the dietary staple of the Wallaga Oromo, the tuber is central to the culture and identity of the people. The tuber is anthropomorphized and often referred to as a relative of fertile women. Indeed, the tuber, women and pottery form a nexus of metaphorical meaning integral to Oromo cosmology. Moreover, cultivation of the tuber is framed by the daily interaction between farmers. The perceived agency of farmland is key to understanding how the Wallaga Oromo struggle to retain, modify or alter anchote culture in a swiftly changing world. Anchote is steamed in a clay pot and its processing results in formation of diagnostic use-alteration. This use-alteration may help to envisage antiquity of tuber production and consumption in the Wallaga region of the southwestern Ethiopian highlands.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)34-55
Number of pages22
JournalEthnoarchaeology
Volume10
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study benefitted from the generous support and assistance of a number of people and institutions. I am very much grateful to the Wallaga farmers among whom this study was conducted. The summer 2006 fieldwork was funded by Addis Ababa University, Graduate School. The summer 2012 and 2013 fieldwork for research was funded by a University of Calgary Carter field-work grant and the NGS/Waitt Grants Program-W239-12 grant, respectively. The summer 2016 field work was funded by the NGS/Committee for Research and Exploration-9846-16 grant. I am also grateful to the journal editors and anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments.

Funding Information:
The summer 2006 fieldwork was funded by Addis Ababa University, Graduate School. The summer 2012 and 2013 fieldwork for research was funded by a University of Calgary Carter fieldwork grant and the NGS/Waitt Grants Program-W239-12 grant, respectively. The summer 2016 field work was funded by the NGS/Committee for Research and Exploration-9846-16 grant.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

Keywords

  • Anchote
  • Ethiopia
  • Fertile women
  • Tuber crop
  • Wallaga Oromo

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