“Structural Analysis of the Evolutionary Motif, Portrait and Discourse of National Identity in the Kebra Nagast, Tobbiya and Dertogada”

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Addis Ababa University


Structuralism is a twentieth century approach or strategy which altered the conformist view of nature and reality as metaphysics and historicism do. Structuralism can be taken as a way, approach, method or philosophy of critical investigation of relationships among deep and surface levels of being and human culture in general; the modern structural world view emerged as prominent manner of study of universal rules and universality with the coming of Ferdinand de Saussure’s book Course in General Linguistics in 1916. The Prague School that included Roman Jakobson and S. Troubetzkoy are responsible for the enrichment of structural linguistics and structuralism. Noam Chomsky and Levi-Strauss have also played an important role in the further development of the structural approach and able to successfully maintain its promising influence in the Western mode of thought from semiotics to cybernetics and general systems theory. Structuralism, hence, is attributed with the undented manifestation of things in their entirety and shared elemental constitution for an underlying principle is governing their existence and interactions. This unequivocal approach, however, had been mistaken as a study of static forms or refrigerated defunct even by some well-noted thinkers like J. Derrida and M. Foucault due to their deplorable fallacies and dubious insights about the concept; contrarily structuralism is a highly systematic and inclusive of the interconnectedness of things to form an relatively definable holistic entity of small constantly transformative as well as self-regulative structures. Thus, the structural insight situates itself somewhere in the middle, dispelling the inertially formalists and chaos theorists; and philosophizing that things are chaotic forms or formal chaos. Thereof, the painstaking conceptual framework of structuralism has been discussed and analyzed in chapter three, following the introductory chapter and review of related literature respectively. In chapter three the concept of structuralism is discussed in detail fully understood to avoid the popular misconceptions including that of “post-structuralism”. Chapter four lines up next to analyze the three focus materials’ (the Kebra Nagast, Tobbiya and Dertogada) historical, social, political, and literary structural configurations, particularly accompanied with Northrop Frye’s structural theory of recurrent formations. Thus, the analysis part of this research paper— synthesizing literature, philosophy and politics—discusses the selected materials’ structural interconnection and similitude. And finally, the conclusion is rendered in chapter five to elicit the major points that have been constructed in the entire chapters, especially the fourth one.



National Identity in the Kebra Nagast, Tobbiya and Dertogada”