"The Sacred and the Profane - Environmental Anthropology of Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity"

"The Sacred and the Profane - Environmental Anthropology of Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity"

Environmental Anthropology of Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity

eBook - 2014
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The Orthodox Tewahedo Christian doctrine in Ethiopian practice has different possibilities: (a) within church compounds the protection of nature (respect of creation), (b) outside the submission of nature, as the Bible demands - both are Christian behaviors! Church is not pro-nature. The Church itself has set up a partition into sacred and profane, with different rule for both spheres; both systems of rules exist parallel. The followers respect the plants and animals in the church compound as end by themselves than a means to their economic objectives; they respect them not for their economic value rather for their perceived duty; respect to God as Church is the house of God. The people do not consider the plants and animals in the Church as simply normal animals rather they are believed to have a metaphysical divine power. Hence, it is impossible to put the follower's ethical perspective in exclusive manner rather it is both anthropocentristic and deep ecological which can be determined by the nature of the space occupied by the recourses.   Auszug aus dem Text Textsample: Chapter 1.1, Trends in Biodiversity Conservation: The very fast rate of deforestation and killing and hunting of animals in Africa has brought significant decline in biodiversity to the extent that some species are on the verge of local extinction. For Mackinnon, though the available information is limited, it is estimated that two-third of the land that could support habitats for wild plants and animals is being used for other purposes (cited in Biodiversity Support Program, 1993). According to the Environmental Protection Authority (2003), Ethiopia is one of the richest countries in flora and fauna in Africa. As the Institute of Biodiversity Conservation sited from Tewolde Brehan (1991), there are 6500- 7000 species of higher plants of which 12 percent are believed to be
endemic. Besides, the country (Ethiopia) is endowed with 284 wild mammals, 861 birds, 201 reptile, 63 amphibian, 188 fish and 1225 arthropod species of which 10, 2,5, 54, 0.4 and 21 percent respectively are believed to be endemic (Institute of Biodiversity Conservation, 2009). However, due to deforestation which is occurring at an alarming rate, the country is losing much of ist unique biodiversity. The findings of Teketay cited in Zewge, (2001), shows that the major reasons for deforestation are the intensive use of land for agriculture and livestock production, and tree cutting for different purposes. With a number of factors for deforestation and decline in or loss of biodiversity, the problem is evident in the northern highlands of Ethiopia and more severe in Tigray regional state, where forests are downscaled to few protected areas especially the Orthodox Tewahedo Church compounds. To this end, very little of the natural forest and wild animals remains today. These all are the results of both conscious (a long-term human occupation of the area, accompanied by sedentary agriculture and extensive cattle husbandry) and unconscious (consecutive civil and national wars) exploitation of the biodiversity. For this reason, the government made different efforts in various sectors of biodiversity conservation. To overcome problems in biodiversity loss, the ministry of agriculture in collaboration with different national and international organizations is working to implement agro forestry and community tree planting programs for the last three decades. However, yet the challenges of minimizing the rate of deforestation, lack of appropriate technologies to improve conservation practices, and imbalance between the forest resource and the demand of the ever increasing population of the country remain unsolved (United Nations, 2002). In such devastated
areas, conserving and maintaining biodiversity has been a very challenging task, and most approaches did not bring significant change. The only areas where one can observe forests/trees in northern Ethiopia are in some protected areas and the church surroundings and hence, these patches of biodiversity in the church compounds are believed to survive as a result of the religion and tradition of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church's conservation system and protective patronage (Dagnachew, 2001). In line with this Zewge (2001) underlines that; The sacred church and monastery lands of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Churches have, however, survived for many centuries as islands of natural forest biodiversity in a sea of deforested landscape in much of the Ethiopian Highlands. Having the knowledge of the multifaced benefits of biodiversity conservation, the Ethiopian government is enhancing the activities and organizational structure of biodiversity conservation from time to time. As part of ist enhancement activities, the government upgraded Plant Genetic Resource (PGR) to Institute level which is named as Institute of Biodiversity Conservation and Research (IBCR) by proclamation No. 120/98 and reestablished it with the name of Institute of Biodiversity Conservation (IBC) by proclamation No. 381/2004 (FDREEPA, 2004). Yet, few protected areas and church and monastery compounds are the only areas in which biodiversity are conserved (Alemayehu, 2007). As different writers have agreed, sustainable use of environment depends on two main factors: (1) having appropriate local knowledge and technology to use resources, and (2) the environmental ethics that guides the relationship between human and nature in a sustainable way (cited in Alemayehu, 2007). In the development of human beings (either for misuse or wise use of the environment) institutions can
play a significant role. For instance, in states like Ethiopia in which religion has a great value, Orthodox Tewahedo Church plays a prominent role in conserving biodiversity. The Christian Anthropocentrists believe that God created nature for human's benefit by using the biblical instruction of Genesis which instructs Adam and Eve to be ,fruitful and multiply and fill the Earth and subdue it; have dominion over everything that moves upon the Earth.', which supports the argument of Anthropocentrism: nature should be used as a means (wealth) for the people (Chandran and Ramachandra, 2008). However, the Christian Deep Ecologist, Nash concludes that the massive losses in biodiversity matter morally, not primarily because of the instrumental value of the other species (other than human beings), but rather because of the intrinsic values of the species that humans ought to respect (Zaleha, 2009). However, although the observation in the Orthodox Church compounds seems in line with the proponents of Deep ecology, there is no research done regarding Orthodox Tewahedo Church values and practices in Ethiopia in general as well as the wereda Ìnderta in particular. In influencing peoples' perspectives on biodiversity conservation, the Orthodox Tewahedo Church is believed to play ist role in three ways to conserve biodiversity: (1) Based upon and rooted in their own understanding of the relationship between humanity and the rest of nature; (2) They can teach about the environment and natural systems upon which life depends; (3) They can provide active leadership in initiating practical environmental projects. Having Said this, the Church norms and values which are being respected in the Church compound are not applicable in other areas/ outside the Church compound which can be in this case expressed in the form of separation between sacred and profane and
levels of sacredness linked with secrecy of spaces, from open space to very much closed one.   Biographische Informationen The author has BEd in Civic and Ethical Education (2008) and MA in Social Anthropology with concentration in Environmental Anthropology(2012) from Mekelle University, Ethiopia. Since 2008 he was working in Mekelle University College of Law and Governance as a lecturer and currently he is doing Mphil in Childhood Studies in Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Norway.
Publisher: Hamburg : Diplomica Verlag, 2014
Edition: 1st ed
Copyright Date: ©2014
ISBN: 9783954895816
Branch Call Number: Electronic book
Characteristics: 1 online resource (109 pages)
Additional Contributors: ProQuest (Firm)


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