Vertical love: Forms of submission and top-down power in Orthodox Ethiopia

Diego Maria Malara, Tom Boylston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The classical sociological literature on Amhara hierarchy describes a society based on open relations of domination and an obsession with top-down power. This article asks how these accounts can be reconciled with the strong ethics of love and care that ground daily life in Amhara. We argue that love and care, like power, are understood in broadly asymmetrical terms rather than as egalitarian forms of relationship. As such, they play into wider discourses of hierarchy, but also serve to blur the distinction between legitimate authority and illegitimate power.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)40-57
Number of pages18
JournalSocial Analysis: The International Journal of Social and Cultural Practice
Issue number4
Early online date1 Dec 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2016


  • Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity
  • hierarchy
  • love
  • loyalty
  • mediation
  • power
  • submission


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