German Cultural Anthropologist Works with Ono’s Ethiopian Center

From September to November 2021, the International Center for the Study of Ethiopian Jewry at Ono Academic College supported cultural anthropologist Kim Glück in her ethnographic research on informal savings and insurance associations in the Ethiopian Jewish community in Israel.

Kim Glück is a cultural anthropologist specializing in Ethiopian studies. As a research associate at the Frobenius Institute for research in cultural anthropology Research in Frankfurt am Main (Germany), she is part of the project: “On the saf(v)e side: informal economic associations and future aspirations in the Ethiopian diaspora,” supported by the German Research Foundation (DFG). This project runs from April 2021 to March 2024, with an international team of researchers: Dr. Sophia Thubauville (Frankfurt am Main; project director), Dr. Elias Alemu (Hawassa University, Ethiopia), Professor Nida, and Debela Gindola (Hawassa U.). In addition to the ethnographic field research, the project incorporates two international workshops, in April 2022 at Frankfurt University in Germany and in April 2023 at Hawassa University in Ethiopia.

The project builds on emergent anthropological interest in the ‘good’, aiming to understand how people work towards a ‘good life’ and a ‘good future’ through informal savings and insurance practices. Kim Glück works on the Israeli component of this multi-sited research, which encompasses four sub-projects covering Ethiopia and its largest diaspora populations (in the USA, Israel, and South Africa).

In Ethiopia, the research examines how informal savings and insurance associations facilitate emigration, while the projects in the Ethiopian diaspora focus on the changes and continuities in the informal savings and insurance associations outside of Ethiopia. Kim Glück examines the role of the traditional rotating savings and credt, and insurance associations, known as equb, iddir, kuvie, and mahaber, respectively, in shaping the lives and futures of the Ethiopian Jewish community in Israel.

Rabbi Dr. Sharon Shalom, the director of Ono’s International Center for the Study of Ethiopian Jewry, supported Kim Glück in her research and her outreach to the Ethiopian Jewish community. Thus, with his support as well as that of the center’s manager, Nilly Venezia, and Judy Arad, Ono’s Director of Foreign Relations, Glück was able to establish a social network, attend several savings group meetings, and interview important key people within a short period of time. Her next research visit is planned for spring/summer 2022.