Dr. Izabela Orlowska


Forschungsprojekt: Ethnicity, Conflict and Festivalization of Politics in Ethiopia
Regionaler Schwerpunkt: The Horn of Africa (especially Ethiopia)

Associated Researcher from May 2015 until May 2018  (AvH) 

Research Fellow from September 2018 until December 2018

Research Project: Illusions of Change? A Cultural History of Progress in Ethiopiavon

associated Researcher from January until December 2019 (ISRF)

Research Projekt: Ethnicity, Conflict and Festivalization of Politics in Ethiopia.

Dr. Izabela Orlowska
Dr. Izabela Orlowska

Employment History

Independent Scholar Fellowship of the Independent Social Research Foundation, UK. (affiliation: Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient)
2015 - 2018
Humboldt Research Fellow at Leibiz-Zentrum Moderner Orient, Berlin.
2013 - 2015
Social Science Research Fellow and Co-investigator on an interdisciplinary project sponsored by Picker Interdisciplinary Science Institute at Colgate University and subsequently by the National Science Foundation, US.
2011 - 2013
Associate Professor, Head of Philology Programme Unit, Department of Linguistics and Philology, Addis Ababa University..
2006 - 2009
British Academy Fellow and Lecturer, University of Edinburgh, UK.
Visiting Lecturer, Department of History, Addis Ababa University.
2002 - 2006
PhD candidate,University of London, SOAS, UK.
Junior Lecturer, Department of African Languages and Cultures, University of Warsaw


2001 - 2006
PhD, School of Oriental and African Studies, Department of history, University of London.
1993 - 1998
BA and Master Degree, African Studies Programme in the Institute of Oriental Studies, University of Warsaw

Main Publications


Performing Monarchy: Symbolic Communication in the Making of Modern Ethiopian ( the manuscript is i the final sage of preparation)

2006 Re-imagining Empire: Ethiopian political culture under Yohannis IV, 1872-89 PhD thesis 

Peer-reviewed articles


2018           Izabela Orlowska & Peter Klepeis, Ethiopian church forests: a socio-religious conservation model under change, Journal of Eastern African Studies, 12:4, 674-695,

DOI: 10.1080/17531055.2018.1519659

2018           Eliza Kent &  Izabela  Orlowska ‘Accidental Environmentalists: The Religiosity of Church Forests in Highland Ethiopia’, WorldViews: Global Religions, Culture and Ecology, 22:1, 1-30,

DOI: 10.1163/15685357-02201101

2017           Cardelus, C., Scull. P., Wassie, A., Woods, C., Klepeis, P., and I. Orlowska  ‘Shadow Conservation and the Persistence of Sacred Forests in Northern Ethiopia’, Biotropica, 49:5,726-733,


2016                Klepeis, P. Orlowska, I, Kent, E., Cardelus, C., Scull, P., Wassie, A. and C.                              Woods  ‘Ethiopian Church Forests: A Hybrid Model of Protection’, Human Ecology,                              44:715-730,    

DOI 10.1007/s10745-016-9868-z        



2013                ‘Feasting and Political Change: Tafari's Ascent to Power and Early 20th century Geber,’ Annales d’Ethiopie 28, 45-67.

2013          ‘Forging a Nation: Ethiopian Millennium Celebration and the Multiethnic State’, Nations and Nationalism 19:2, 296-316. DOI:10.1111/nana.12021

2013                ‘The Legitimising Project: The Coronation Rite and the Written Word’, Aethiopica: International Journal Ethiopian and Eritrean Studies 16, 74-101.

2010                ‘Ethiopia and the ‘Theatre-State’ Model: Symbolism and Political Ritual’, Research in Ethiopian Studies: Selected papers (eds.) Harald Aspen, Shiferaw Bekele, Birhanu Teferra, Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 52-60.

2009           ‘Performance and Ritual in Nineteenth-Century: Ethiopian Political Culture’, Proceedings of the 16th International Conference of Ethiopian Studies, ed. by Svein Ege, Harald Aspen, Birhanu Teferra and Shiferaw Bekele, (Trondheim 2009)

2007                ‘The Monarchy of Niguse Negest: Political Compromise and State Ritual’. In: Polska, Europa, Afryka. Eds. Nowak, B., Dygo, M., Pultusk: Akademia Humanstyczna im. Aleksandra Gieysztora, 295-314.

2006                ‘Re-imagining Empire: The Coronation Ceremony of Yohannis IV (1872-89) as an Expression of Memory of the Ethiopian Monarchy’, Rocznik Orientalistyczny (Yearbook of Oriental Studies), 59: 1, 173-180.  

2006                ‘Mining the Wisdom of Solomon: The Coronation of Yohannis IV and the Re-Invention of Tradition in Late Nineteenth-Century Ethiopia’, Proceedings of the XV International Conference of Ethiopian Studies, Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 313-22. 

2003                ‘The Chronicle of Susinyos as an Ethiopian Source for Research on the Jesuit Period in Ethiopia’, Proceedings of the XIV International Conference of Ethiopian Studies, Addis Ababa: Addis Ababa University Press, 422-434.

2000                ‘The Chronicle of Susinyos, the Emperor of Ethiopia, 1602-1632’, Afryka: Journal of the Polish African Society, 10, 15-23.

1999                ‘History of Somalia until 1991’ in Maciej Zabek & Joanna Mantel-Niecko (eds.), Rog Afryki (The Horn of Africa), series: World History, Warsaw:Trio,  285-306.


Selected Talks and Seminar Papers

Iconography of Power: Ethiopian ruptures and continuities under three regimes (1930s-to present) public lecture, Bayreuth University (invited speaker).
Why do they exist? How did they survive? Sacred groves of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Multidisciplinary research project. Department of African Languages and Culture, University of Warsaw ( invited speaker).
Ethiopian Church Forests: Hubs of social and religious life and pockets of remaining biodiversity, 19th International Conference of Ethiopian Studies, University of Warsaw.
‘New Ethiopian Nationalist Visions: symbols, heroes and development projects’, seminar of Zentrum Moderner Orient, Berlin (invited speaker).
‘Interpreting Ethiopian Iconographic Heritage’, International Conference on Museology ‘Development of Museums and Heritage in Africa: Developments, Challenges and Collaboration’, Mekelle University, November 2012.
‘Ethiopian Church murals as historical sources’, inauguration workshop of Heritage and Preservation Centre, University of Debre Marqos, Debre Marqos.
‘Forging a Nation? Ethiopian Millennium Celebration and the Multiethnic State’, presented at International Conference of the Association for Studies of Ethnicity and Nationalism (ASEN), London School of Economics.
‘Swinging Shawls, Bowing, Carrying Stones: the Dynamics of Posture, Gesture and Dress in Ethiopian Political Culture’, Seminar of the History Department, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, March 2009.
‘Symbolic Communication and Political Modernisation in Imperial Ethiopia: from Local Knowledge to Global Interactions’, British Academy PDF Symposium.

Media and knowledge transfer

  1. Interviewed and podcast by Gregoire Portier for Radio France Internationale RFI (2012)
  2. Expert advice for two broadcasting companies (the BBC and KBC - Korean Broadcasting Corporation) on food culture in Ethiopia.
  3. Expert knowledge for specialised travel: Presentation for non-specialised audience on popular religion and church forests in Ethiopia (in cooperation with Ababa Travel and Dr. Chris Hartney), Cultural encounters (food tasting and the history of Addis Abab

Teaching and curriculum development

2010 - 2012
Associate Professor, Department of Linguistics and Philology, Addis Ababa University. Teaching, lecturing, course design and assessment of modules in research methods and the history of the Horn of Africa, supervision of BA, MA and PhD students. Organisation of viva committees with international examiners.
2006 - 2009
British Academy Fellow, in the School of History, Classics and Archaeology, The University of Edinburgh, teaching and student assessment writing and delivering lectures; class teaching; setting and marking examinations, courses taught: MSc option: Themes in Social History of Africa honours class: The Making of Modern Ethiopia: Indigenous Symbolism, State Ideology and the Invention of Tradition
Visiting Lectureship at the History Department, AAU. Course taught ‘Major Themes in the History of Ethiopia and the Horn’, supervision of BA and MA theses, graduate seminar development.
2005 - 2006
Lecturer and Course Convenor, Ethiopian Peoples and Cultures full unit course for undergraduates, course design, lectures, seminars and student assessment. Department of the Languages and Cultures of Africa, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.
2003 - 2005
Class Teacher, The History of Africa from 1800; The Making of Africa (pre-colonial history of Africa), class teaching and student assessment. Department of History, SOAS.

Honors and Awards

Independent Social Research Foundation, fellowship
Leibniz Historical Authenticity, fellowship
Fellow of the Bayreuth Academy of Advanced African Studies
2015 - 2018
Humboldt Research Fellow at Leibniz - Zentrum Moderner Orient
2006 - 2009
British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Edinburgh
2003 - 2004
Marshall Fellowship, Institute of Historical Research, Institute of Advanced Studies, University of London.
2001 - 2003
Royal Historical Society, three year PhD bursary.
Research Fellowship, University of London, SOAS.


  • English: fluent
  • Polish: native
  • Amharic: fluent
  • Ge’ez: good reading
  • German: good reading
  • Russian: good