Caitlin Collis

Photo of Caitlin Collis

Ph.D. Candidate

My dissertation traces the history of modern Ethiopian roads – their planning, construction, and impact – from the era of the ‘early modernizers’ in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries to the end of the short-lived Italian Occupation in 1941. I examine how visionary road-building projects factored into the schemes of emperors Tewodros II, Menelik II, and Haile Selassie to consolidate and modernize Ethiopia, and how the realization of an ambitious new road network in the Horn became central to the imperial imaginings of Fascist Italy in the 1930s. My research considers the public narratives devised at the state level to promote the value of this infrastructure, the social and spatial transformations that accompanied road construction, and the discrepancies between the “official” rhetoric and the everyday experience of road workers, roadside residents, and the intended beneficiaries of these state projects. 


MA, History, University of Pennsylvania (2017)

BSFS, Regional Studies (Africa), Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University (2013)

Research Interests

History of Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa (19th and 20th centuries), Italian colonialism