This week’s post is written by Naomi Crummey, professor of writing and literature at Blackburn College. She is the daughter of the late Donald E. Crummey, whose book Farming and Famine will be published August 31st.
A true scholar to the end, my father spent his last months and weeks reviewing drafts, organizing source material, and making plans for Farming and Famine to be completed and published. Some chapters did not meet his usual standards and he was frustrated that the central argument was incomplete. He wrote to Bahru Zwede to ask for his help; Dr. Zwede and Dr. Tom Spear of the University of Wisconsin Press were kind enough to put my mother and me in touch with Dr. James McCann, to whom we owe our greatest debt of gratitude for his time and conscientious attention to my father’s work. We are also grateful to Tom Bassett for putting us in touch with Dr. Spear and to Gwen Walker and Anna Muenchrath for their patience and coordination at the Press.
I believe that my father wanted this book to re-examine the relationship of the farmers to the land in the context of famine and environmental change in Ethiopia. Particularly troubling to him in existing arguments was the implication that farmers and farming practices were somehow to blame, and he hoped to center their stories and practices in the book and the historical record. Throughout his career, but more so in the work represented here, my father’s deep respect and admiration for his sources drove him and his work.
My family and I are tremendously happy that this day has arrived and know that my father would be too.
(1941–2013) was regarded as one of the world’s leading authorities on Ethiopian history. His many books include Land and Society in the Christian Kingdom of Ethiopia and Land, Literacy, and the State in the History of Sudanic Africa. James C. McCann, the author of numerous books including Deposing the Malevolent Spirit and People of the Plow, edited Crummey’s drafts to bring this book to completion.