“Everyone can do as he wants”: Economic liberalization and emergent forms of antipathy in southern Ethiopia



After the fall of Ethiopia's socialist government, people in Konso in the south appropriated idioms associated with neoliberal economic reforms to describe and to shape their reconfiguration of hereditary status groups, as some historically despised Xauta artisans and merchants became wealthy and some dominant Etenta cultivators adopted Xauta identity. Countering scholarship that assumes a recent break with previously separate and stable status groups, I argue that, throughout the 20th century, people in Konso reshaped inherited social categories through interactions with novel information and changing political–economic circumstances. Emergent relations today are shaped in an increasingly transnational postsocialist context, and they reconfigure, rather than eliminate, local hegemonies.