Friend of Ethiopia Don Levine Passed Away

Donald N. Levine was Professor Emeritus of Sociology at University of Chicago. (Photos: Facebook)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Sunday, April 5th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — We are deeply saddened to learn that our friend, a contributor to this magazine and a great scholar of Ethiopian history, Don Levine, has passed away.

His family announced that Levine died yesterday afternoon. He was 83-years old.

Levine, who was affectionately known as “Gash Liben” among his Ethiopian friends, is the author of several books and academic papers on Ethiopia including Wax and Gold: Tradition and Innovation in Ethiopian Culture., Interpreting Ethiopia: Observations of Five Decades (2014), Greater Ethiopia: The Evolution of a Multiethnic Society.

“Gash Liben, Ethiopian scholar, lover of Ethiopia, founder of the Aikido Ethiopia Project has passed away today at 1pm,” his son Bill Levine said via Facebook.

According to his biography: “Levine was born in New Castle, Pennsylvania in 1931. For his post-secondary education, he attended the University of Chicago. There, he earned a BA in 1950, MA in 1954, and PhD in 1957. His intellectual development was greatly shaped by the teachers and curriculum of the “Hutchins College” at Chicago.”

Wiki adds: “For five decades Levine has also been active in the area of Ethiopian Studies. In this field he published two seminal books and dozens of papers. He organized the Fifth International Conference of Ethiopian Studies at the University of Chicago in 1978. For his expertise as an Ethiopianist he has served as consultant to public and governmental organizations, include the U.S. Department of State, the United States Senate, and the Peace Corps. Before joining the Chicago faculty in 1962, he taught at Ethiopia’s University College of Addis Ababa. Levine eventually received a Doctor of Letters honoris causa in 2004 from Addis Ababa University, where his citation read: ‘Ethiopianist, sociological theorist, educator: you have succeeded in all three vocations. Your pioneering work, Wax and Gold, has become an Ethiopian classic. As manifested in its title, yours is an exceptionally imaginative quest to reach an understanding of Amhara society from the internal point of view. The very concept of “Wax and Gold” has taken a life of its own: it figures at once in our understanding of Ethiopia’s pre-modern culture and in our coming to grips with Ethiopia’s reception of modernity. Greater Ethiopia draws attention to the deep fact that Ethiopian life is rooted in multicultural identities, and it also demonstrates the salient bonds that hold them together.’”

At the time of his death he held the status of Peter B. Ritzma Professor Emeritus of Sociology at the University of Chicago.

Tribute to Ethiopia Scholar Don Levine: Reflections & Photos
Donald Levine, sociologist and former dean of the College, 1931-2015 (UChicago News)‎
Coming to America by Professor Donald Levine (2003)
The Obama Presidency & Ethiopia: Time for Fresh Thought (2009) by Don Levine
Five Reasons for Ethiopian-Americans to Support Obama (2008) by Don Levine

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