Abraham and Sarah I: Creators of a Productive Landscape

Germany, Ethiopia

53´, 2017.


Ivo Strecker


Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology


In the highlands of Tigray - northern Ethiopia - on the edge of the escarpment that descends steeply to the Danakil dessert, Hagos Mashisho and his wife Desta Gidey toiled for years to turn the rugged slopes into fertile ground. Abraham provides the commentary to three main sequences: on a tiny threshing floor Abraham and his sons first drive donkeys to thresh the barley, and then do the winnowing; a communal work party repairs a flood-damaged terrace, is feasted by Sarah and her daughters, and a passing minstrel sings praise of Abraham and Sarah; on the newly repaired terrace, Abraham spreads maize seeds, and his sons plough with oxen.


Ivo Strecker was born 1940 in Magdeburg, Germany. He is the son of painter Sigmund Strecker and husband of anthropologist Jean Lydall. He studied in Hamburg, Goettingen and London and by now is Professor Emeritus of Cultural Anthropology at the Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz. He has done long-term fieldwork with the Hamar of southern Ethiopia, which stimulated his theoretical interest in symbolism and rhetoric. Together with Stephen Tyler (Rice University) and students and staff of the Institute of Anthropology and African Studies (Mainz) he initiated the International “Rhetoric Culture”project. He has also taught repeatedly at several Ethiopian universities and founded the South Omo Research Center. Rhetoric culture theory plays a role in all his current ventures such as the “Guardians of productive landscapes”project (https://www.eth.mpg.de).