Surafel Wondimu Abebe uses academia, performance and media as sites of cultural politics from which to interrogate representational practices. Questioning the inadequacy of Ethiopian exceptionalism, which valorises the country’s ‘uncolonised’ position, Abebe engages with sedimented and embodied historiographies in order to understand what it means to be human in the here and now. He is the inaugural Okwui Enwezor Postdoctoral Fellow in Visual Culture, Performance Studies and Critical Humanities at The Africa Institute, Sharjah. He is also a researcher and Assistant Professor at the Centre for African Studies and College of Performing and Visual Arts at the Institute of Ethiopian Studies at Addis Ababa University.

Abebe is developing his doctoral dissertation, which is a part of his fellowship at The Africa Institute, into a book that considers how performing Ethiopian female bodies engage with space, and manoeuvre within progressive, imperial (local and colonial), socialist and neoliberal temporalities of the 20th and 21st centuries.
Abebe is co-founder of Crossing Boundaries, a festival-cum-conference that focuses on North-East Africa. He is also a board member of a multi-genre online journal, AGITATE, at the University of Minnesota, and a research associate at the Visual Identities in Art and Design (VIAD) at the University of Johannesburg. Abebe has worked with the National Theatre in Addis Ababa and other cultural institutions in Ethiopia as an actor, playwright and director, and recently co-founded a new local television station called Asham TV.

He holds a BA in English literature minoring in Political Science and International Relations and an MA in Cultural Studies from Addis Ababa University, where he later served as a lecturer and Assistant Dean in Humanities. Abebe completed his PhD in Performance Historiography at The University of Minnesota–Twin Cities where he minored in Comparative Literature and Development and Social Change.

Born in 1973 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Abebe currently lives and works in Addis Ababa.

SAF participation:
White Cube (2020) Global Museum Launch Middle East Premiere and Discussion

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Wondimu Abebe, Surafel

White Cube (2020) Global Museum Launch Middle East Premiere and Discussion

White Cube (2020) is a feature-length film that documents the successful attempt by Congolese plantation workers to co-opt the ‘white cube’ and buy back their land to secure it for future generations. Sharjah Art Foundation and The Africa Institute will host the Global Museum Launch Middle East Premiere of White Cube followed by a discussion about the project’s implications.

To watch the film screening, click here.

To register for- the online discussion, click here.