The Hidden Empire

Written on April 29, 2015 by Fernando Dameto Zaforteza in Arts & Cultures & Societies

By Fernando Dameto Zaforteza, Deputy Director of Humanities at IE Business School

IMG_6770When one thinks of Ethiopia the first thing that usually pops up to one’s mind is the terrible famine the country suffered in the mid eighties, which motivated Geldof’s live aid concerts, or the more recent civil war with Eritrea, which ended in 2000 with the independence of the northern seacoast region. If one is a bit older – or better informed- he might mention the flamboyant African king that ruled the country for 60 years during the 20th century and who left behind numerous followers organized under a new religion, Ras Tafari Makonnen, AKA Haile Selassie I. A peculiar character, loved by most current Ethiopians, who was brilliantly portrayed by Ryszard Kapuscinski’s in The Emperor: Downfall of an Autocrat (Vintage,1989).IMG_6144

Only few will include in their description of this East African Nation the fact that it was  one of the first countries to adopt Christianity and that it is mentioned several times in the Bible, or that it has one of the oldest alphabets and numeral systems (the only country I have been to that does not use Arabic numbers); or even its history rich in legends: since way back when the country was a monarchy, almost all kings were believed to be descendants of Melenik I, son of Solomon, King of Israel, sand the Queen of Sheba. Finally, it has one of the most interesting, rich, vast and unknown cultural patrimonies in the world.

IMG_6646The historical Heritage  of Ethiopia is breathtaking: the series of inaccessible Tigray cave churches, like those in Meteora, to complicate an invasion prospect; the Gonder’s Castles Complex, like in Angkor, where every king constructed his palace close to the one of his predecessor, creating a succession of buildings that offers the visitor a taste of each king, (one keen on parties built a huge dining room; another, more ascetic, raised a humbler building). The most impressive, however, is Lalibela.

Lalibela’s string of churches and palaces, carved in rock, were constructed over  a brief period of time: legend goes that when the workers went to bed, angels from heaven kept on doing their work during the night. King Lalibela, who sponsored its construction, shocked by the fall of Jerusalem in IMG_6520Saladin’s hands at the end of the Third Crusade, decided to build a new Jerusalem in Africa. This is why all the names of the complex are taken from the Near East, the river crossing  by is called Jordan, the warehouse Betleem, etc. It bears some resemblance with the Nabatean city of Petra, both were carved on pink coloured rock and both are so big it requires a whole day to visit them. There is a major difference, though: the Ethiopian site is still in use.

We walked into Lalibela on Palm Sunday. Three priests were celebrating Sunday mass at the entrance while attendees, dressed in white, listened, prayed or got injera bread from hawkers. After avoiding stepping on parishioners, hard task as the place was overcrowded, one goes down and enters into a world of wonder. It IMG_6524was amazing to see the huge, beautiful site with people walking in and out, with priests taking care of the relics, believers prostrating while praying, others reading holy writings, some just occupied in their thoughts. There one feels like being back in the Middle Ages, in one of those Early Eastern Christian churches, marvellously, described by William Dalrymple in From the Holy Mountain: A Journey In The Shadow of Byzantium (Flamingo, 1997).

Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, although not included in Dalrymple’s books, can be considered as an extension of the Coptic Church, was depended on Alexandria’s Patriarchate until 1959. It has several IMG_6549similarities with other Eastern Churches, such as the use of an ancient liturgical language, Ge’ez, that barely no one speaks outside the priesthood, like Copts with Pharaonic or Syrians with Aramaic. They do prostrations, like Syrians, a fact that most will relate to Islam, but in fact a practice that was quite extended amongst Eastern Christians. They are Monophysites, like Copts and Armenians. They also share certain practices with Islam and Judaism, such as a forbiddance to eat pork, or the possibility of following services from a couple of miles away thanks to powerful loudspeakers.

Copia de Copia de IMG_5964What makes the Ethiopian Church so special is that they have been isolated from the rest of Christianity since Islam became the predominant faith in the Middle East and Northern Africa, despite some occasional contact with the West: epic is the story of the Jesuits Missions in the late 16th and early 17th centuries, well explained in Javier Reverte’s Dios, el diablo y la aventura (Plaza & Janés, 2001). The fact of being isolated led them to a complete different narrative from the Latin or Greek traditions. They believe Wise Man Balthasar was from Ethiopia or that the Holy Family in their flight to Egypt stopped in the Ethiopian Highlands.  The iconography is also different. Virgin Mary is portrayed doing miracles, while their IMG_6490representation of Saint George is quite distant from the common European one. In the West, Saint George is painted/sculptured as a medieval armoured knight while in Ethiopia dresses with rich-coloured African gowns and is barefooted.

Ethiopia is a country that combines past and present, you can see caravans of camels transporting salt from the mines of the Desert of Danakil to the city of Mek’ele, while the capital Addis Abeba is a sort Africa’s Brussels or Washington, hosting numerous transnational organizations such as the African Union and United Nations Economic Commission for Africa. Unfortunately, it is a country that, despite having so much to offer, hardly anyone, besides its proud nationals, seems to be aware of the rich cultural and historic patrimony hidden inside its mountains. Probably, the most accurate code name for Ethiopia was the one coined by National Geographic, The Hiden Empire.


IE students launch “IE for Nepal” fundraising

Written on April 28, 2015 by Administrador de IE Blogs in IE University


Saturday, 25th April 2015, 11 56 AM.

It was the time and date when Nepal was struck by a massive 7.8 Richter scale earthquake. It has since then devastated the country and continues to do so. 3800+ confirmed deaths, 7000+ injuries, 70+ aftershocks and our families are out living on the streets in fear of going inside after having felt the wrath of nature. Our own immediate families are safe, but we consider every Nepalese to be our family. Right now, they need us. When we decided to come to IE, we knew we were leaving our homes, our families but had never thought that we would be leaving them to this. At this critical time, we feel helpless being here. For some of us, IE has been a home for the last 4 years. For others, a lot less. Nevertheless, it is the place we now call our home. We can only imagine the pain that Nepal is going through right now, and so we have started a funding campaign to help our friends, our families, the families of our friends, and the friends of our families. Now we ask the IE community for their support; now we ask the IE family for help.

Smaller campaigns allow us to reach the communities accessible to our family and friends, and help those that foreign aid may not. A lot of the times, larger charities are limited by their priorities, and while help is needed by everyone, these charities can only support those that need immediate help. We want to help those that may not have faced the entire burden of the quake but need help nonetheless- these communities are usually overlooked by larger charities who have more pressing issues to deal with. Bearing that in mind, we would like admit to you that we are yet to look at charities and do not want to take a hasty decision. The help we are hoping to provide is not immediate and is rather long term and so we will have to wait for the situation to subside a bit before knowing which organization/organizations has been and will be truly effective. We want to plan before we take a decision. What we can give you right now is an idea of what we want to do, as we see it, and as Nepalese we feel we need to do.

With the IE Fundraiser, we intend to fund a local charity or relief effort that we know will do good work rather than a larger charity. We are in contact with like minded people who are also raising funds in different continents and who want us to pool our funding. That being said, we want the power to be within the ones who care. For that, we would like to request the IE Community not only for financial support but a lot more. We need help identifying the charity or effort we will be supporting. As locals, we will compile a list of charities that we think are effective in their work in Nepal. With them, we will provide a short description of each charity and/or relief effort, what they do, and what they want to do. Once we reach the target of funds, which is 5000 Euros at this time, we will then call for a vote by the IE Community. Each and every member of the IE Community, whether a donor or not, will have a chance to say where the money will go.

In order to facilitate the process, we need a supervisor, most preferably a professor, or a caring IE Community member that will supervise the entire process. We also need volunteers that are willing to help us physically raise funds in Segovia and in Madrid. We would be honored if they want to go to Nepal with us and volunteer. Finally, we need your voice. Every Euro may help save countless lives. You may help save countless lives. With that, we request that you please support our campaign at: https://www.gofundme.com/swzrrg

Keep a look out for our volunteers in University, and do ask them a couple of words in Nepali before you donate. If you want to become a supervisor or volunteer, please contact Tsering Kenji in the Segovia Campus and Anup Satyal or Nischal Shrestha in the Madrid Campus. 


De banderas y manifestaciones

Written on April 27, 2015 by Rafael Puyol in Arts & Cultures & Societies

INSTITUTO DE EMPRESA.  PROFESORESPor Rafael Puyol, Vicepresidente de Fundación IE

Las acciones terroristas son una de las actividades (más execrables) que concitan el acercamiento político y el rechazo popular. Así sucedió en España con los atentados en Madrid en el 2004 y así ha ocurrido en Francia, con los luctuosos sucesos de París que acabamos de vivir.

He seguido por los medios de comunicación la “reacción” francesa a los inicuos y absurdos asesinatos de sus ciudadanos y me ha gustado lo que he visto, sobre todo los actos protagonizados por la sociedad civil. Francia ha sacado a la calle sus señas de identidad: las tangibles como su bandera o la marsellesa y las intangibles como su patriotismo, y sus principios irrenunciables de libertad, igualdad y fraternidad. Libertad para opinar, igualdad frente a los fanáticos que la atacan y fraternidad con las víctimas.

Resulta difícil permanecer insensible ante estas manifestaciones. Ante el ondear de banderas en las manifestaciones callejeras y ante el emocionado y espontáneo canto del himno por parte de los diputados de la Asamblea Nacional. Francia es una nación y sus ciudadanos se sienten muy franceses. El “chauvinisme” y la “grandeur” estuvieron a la altura de la situación.

Y a uno le vuela la imaginación y trata de hacer comparaciones con lo que ocurre en nuestras manifestaciones, donde himno y bandera no son los símbolos de todos. La bandera española es denostados por algunos o en algunas regiones por ser considerados “de derecho” cuando no fascistas o representativas de un estado que no es el suyo. Algo que debería aglutinar a todos los españoles, de cualquier autonomía, de cualquier signo político, los desune. En una manifestación “española” se pueden contar casi tantas banderas como en la ONU. Nadie sacrifica la suya a la enseña de todos a lo que se coloca en condición de desigualdad con las banderas de los sindicatos, las autonómicas o la de ciertos colectivos que de esta manera reivindican su presencia. Tenemos dos retos históricos por delante: el de darle al himno una letra para que todos lo podamos cantar y el de hacer de la bandera un respetado símbolo de convivencia.


Professor Vincent Doyle120605_EXP_GAYPRIDERAINBOW.jpg.CROP.rectangle3-large

Tuesday, April 28, 7:00 pm at Refectorio (Segovia)

This talk will present a historical overview of efforts to improve perceptions of LGBT people. I will argue that the increasing presence of LGBT identities in institutions like marriage, the media, and the market comes with costs that are not always well understood. What can be gained by remembering some of the forgotten battles of the past? It is hoped that this talk can serve as a basis for discussing issues currently facing IE students.

Vincent Doyle is Assistant Professor of Media and Cultural Studies and Academic Director of the Master in Visual Media at IE University. Originally from Ottawa, Canada, he holds a Ph.D. in Communication from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst (USA), and a Master’s degree in Communication from McGill University, Montreal (Canada). He is a Fellow of the Sexuality Research Fellowship Program of the US Social Science Research Council (2000) and has received two top paper awards from the International Communication Association. His book on LGBT media activism, Making Out in the Mainstream, will be published by McGill-Queen’s University Press in early 2016.



Hispanist Raymond Carr dies at 96

Written on April 21, 2015 by Administrador de IE Blogs in Arts & Cultures & Societies


British Hispanist Raymond Carr – who, along with the likes of Hugh Thomas, Paul Preston and John Elliot helped cover the gaps in Spanish history that homegrown academics were unable to fill in the repressive Franco years – has died at the age of 96.

Known as the Hispanist of British Hispanists, he never much cared for the description, preferring to define himself as a historian of Spain.

A leading figure in the study of 20th-century Spain, he died in the UK on Sunday, leaving behind a notable bibliography and an indelible trail of wisdom, according to his biographer, historian María Jesús González Hernández. Paul Preston also passed on news of his death during an event in Barcelona on Monday.

The author of works such as Spain 1808-1939 and Spain: Dictatorship to Democracy (the latter with Juan Pablo Fusi), he was awarded the Prince of Asturias Award for Social Sciences in 1999 for bringing “a global vision to contemporary history, which has helped to see Spanish history within its European context and has contributed to a better understanding of the Civil War and the transition to democracy.”

Carr was born in Bath in 1919 and educated at Oxford. He abandoned his studies on Sweden and started focusing on Spain after visiting Torremolinos on his honeymoon in the 1950s. Struck by a country then immersed in “degrading poverty,” he became passionate about its contemporary history, as he recalled when he received the Prince of Asturias Prize in 1999.

Continue reading in El País

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