The Hiob Ludolf Centre for Ethiopian and Eritrean Studies (HLCEES) is one of the world-leading centres in the study of Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa. The Centre, which is part of the Asien-Afrika-Institut at Hamburg University, carries out interdisciplinary research in the main areas of the humanities and social sciences, including history, art history, linguistics, anthropology, and philology.
The Centre (then Research Unit Ethiopian Studies / Forschungsstelle Äthiopistik) was launched in 2002 in order to plan, conduct and coordinate small- and large-scale research projects, shape a focused research library, and provide a research and study environment for graduate and postgraduate students and guest researchers. It also organizes workshops and conferences and publishes a wide range of scholarly publications resulting from its activities.
Ethiopian Studies in Hamburg began with the appointment of Prof. Ernst Hammerschmidt (1928-1993) (PDF) as Full (C4) Professor of African Studies (1970-1990). Prof. Hammerschmidt founded the monographic series "Aethiopistische Forschungen" and headed the Ethiopian cataloguing unit of the Union Catalogue of Oriental Manuscripts in German Collections.
In 1990, Prof. Siegbert Uhlig succeeded Prof. Hammerschmidt in the Chair of Ethiopian Studies (Chair "African studies with focus on Ethiopian studies, 1990-2004). Prof. Uhlig enlarged the activities of the Institute. He founded the scholarly journal Aethiopica, the series "Orientalia Biblica et Christiana" (co-edited with Ekkart Otto) and initiated the project Encyclopaedia Aethiopica (EAe).
In 2009, Prof. Alessandro Bausi was appointed Full (W3) Professor of Ethiopian Studies and took over the direction of the HLCEES. During his term, not only the EAe project was completed, but a host of other projects found home at HLCEES, including notably the ERC Advanced Grant TraCES and the long-term Academy of Sciences and Humanities project Beta maṣāḥǝft. Die Schriftkultur des christlichen Äthiopiens und Eritreas: Eine multimediale Forschungsumgebung.
In 2023, Prof. Aaron Michael Butts took over the Chair for Ethiopian Studies at Universität Hamburg, becoming head of the HLCEES and bringing one more ERC Advanced Grant, BeInf – Beyond InfluenceThe Connected Histories of Ethiopic and Syriac Christianity.
The HLCES bears the name of the founder of Ethiopian Studies, the German Hiob Ludolf (1624-1704) (PDF), who, together with his main informant and aide the Ethiopian abba Gregorius (PDF), set the ground for the modern scholarly research on the languages, peoples, history and literature of Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa. In his correspondence and works Ludolf was a strong advocate of the importance to research the history and cultures of north east Africa, values to which the members of the Centre are still strongly committed.
The Hiob Ludolf Centre for Ethiopian Studies is grateful to its sponsors both past and present. The following foundations, German and foreign, have contributed to the funding of the activities and publications of the Centre:
- Akademie der Wissenschaften in Hamburg
- DeutschÄthiopische Stiftung
- Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft
- European Science Foundation
- European Research Council
- Fazit Stiftung
- Fritz Thyssen Foundation
- German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD)
- German Israeli Foundation
- Hamburg University
- Johanna und Fritz Buch Gedächtnisstiftung
- Karl H. Ditze Stiftung
- Zeit Stiftung Ebelin und Gerd Bucerius.
In addition, the Centre has been generously supported by private sponsors.