This article contextualizes the work of contemporary photographer Aïda Muluneh within a broader discussion of Ethiopia’s recent political climate. The author argues that Muluneh visually interprets narratives of place, exile, and agency, with particular regard to issues of displacement, by showing photographic representation of Ethiopian modernity structured around Muluneh’s invocation of her personal history and reference to Ethiopia’s many ethnic groups. For the purpose of clarifying the term “modern,” this assignation refers to the demarcation of time in Ethiopia’s history beginning with the Zemema Mesafint, or Era of Princes (ca. 1760– 1855), which laid the groundwork for the emergence of centralized imperial power that was later dissolved by the 1974 revolution. The article explores the consequences of state power and nationalism post-revolution in definitions of modernity as well the political messages Muluneh embeds within her images.

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