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Black LandImperial Ethiopianism and African America$
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Nadia Nurhussein

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780691190969

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691190969.001.0001

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Fashioning the Imperial Self

Fashioning the Imperial Self

(p.72) Chapter Three Fashioning the Imperial Self
Black Land

Nadia Nurhussein

Princeton University Press

This chapter introduces three incidents of Ethiopianist aristocratic impersonation or imposture. First is of Isaac Brown, a Jamaican man who successfully passed himself off as Menelik's nephew at the turn of the century. Second is that of Joseph Emanuel Blayechettai, who in the 1920s claimed to be the kidnapped son of a king of Tigre, an Abyssinian province. Then third is that of Virginia Woolf, whose participation in the Dreadnought hoax in 1910, during which she dressed as an Abyssinian prince, was notorious. The impersonations are dramatic illustrations of spectacular Ethiopianism, a variant especially prevalent in the first two decades of the twentieth century. The performances of spectacular Ethiopianism were preceded in the nineteenth century by the reciprocal costuming of Prince Alemayehu, the son of Emperor Tewodros orphaned by the Anglo-Abyssinian War, and his guardian, the eccentric English explorer Captain Tristram Speedy.

Keywords:   Ethiopianist, aristocratic impersonation, Isaac Brown, Joseph Emanuel Blayechettai, Virginia Woolf, Dreadnought hoax, Abyssinian prince, spectacular Ethiopianism

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