Technological knowledge among non-literate ethiopian adults in Israel

Yarden Fanta-Vagenshtein, David Chen

pp. 287-302

Ethiopian Jewish immigrants in Israel are one of the most ancient communities in the world, one that has been detached from the known Jewish world for about 2,500 years. Throughout this very long period of isolation, the Ethiopian Jewish community maintained Jewish tradition and dreamed over the centuries to unite with the rest of the Jewish world and immigrate to the Jewish state—Israel. But this transition occurred within a short time from an agrarian society in Ethiopia (traditional culture) with an oral culture to a knowledge society in Israel (modern culture) with a written culture. Most studies that examine cultural transition focus on anthropological, sociological, and cultural aspects; but there are nearly no studies that examine the technological knowledge of non-literate populations. The purpose of this study is to examine and characterize technological knowledge among this population—the case of Ethiopian non-literate immigrants in Israel. The study involved in-depth interviews to examine technological knowledge through using technological appliances in their everyday life, assembly of two simple technological systems, and a home technology profile compared to the general population in Israel. Participants included 50 non-literate Ethiopian immigrants between the ages of 40–60. The results of our study are surprising in that we have shown that non-literate immigrants adapt to a technology-rich environment at an average degree with respect to the general population in Israel. Also, comparing technological knowledge between traditional and modern cultures shows participants' wide range of knowledge without ability to read and write. Illiteracy does not preclude the development of knowledge in general, technological knowledge particularly, and does not prevent non-literate populations from acquiring knowledge in a new environment.

Publication details

DOI: 10.1007/s12130-009-9094-8

Full citation:

Fanta-Vagenshtein, Y. , Chen, D. (2009). Technological knowledge among non-literate ethiopian adults in Israel. Knowledge, Technology & Policy 22 (4), pp. 287-302.

This document is unfortunately not available for download at the moment.