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Associate Director and Professor of African Languages and Linguistics

Associate Director, The Africa Institute and Professor of African Languages and Linguistics

Binyam Sisay Mendisu completed his Ph.D. in Linguistics at the University of Oslo in 2008. From 2008 to 2016, he held full-time teaching positions at Addis Ababa University (AAU), starting as an Assistant Professor and later becoming an Associate Professor. During his tenure as the founding Dean of Humanities from 2010 to 2012 at AAU, Mendisu took the initiative to organize and lead a series of multidisciplinary and critical discussions called 'Conversations on Humanities'.

In his role as an education specialist at UNESCO-IICBA, Mendisu focused on providing technical support for teacher policy development in countries such as Uganda, the Seychelles, Burundi, Malawi, and Mozambique. He also led various projects and initiatives related to mother tongue and early childhood education.

In 2014-2016, Mendisu initiated and served as the project leader for an international project called 'Linguistic Capacity Building: Tools for Inclusive Development of Ethiopia', which received support from the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD). Since 2017, he has been a member of the Global Young Academy (GYA) and is an inaugural fellow of the African Science Leadership Program (ASLP) at the University of Pretoria in South Africa. Currently, Mendisu is a member of the Steering Committee of ASLP and serves as one of the program's facilitators. Additionally, he is a member of the 2021 Letten Prize Committee, which recognizes the contributions of early career researchers worldwide who exemplify how research can address global human development challenges. Recently, he was elected as a fellow of the International Science Council (ISC).

He currently has dual roles as Professor of African Languages and Linguistics and Associate Director of The Africa Institute.


Mendisu’s research considers language as an archive of local knowledge and memory.


  • Mendisu, Binyam S., Abdu Ahmed Ali, and Aquilina Mawadza. Amharic-English/English-Amharic Dictionary and Phrasebook. New York: Hippocrene Books, 2018.
  • Mendisu, Binyam S., and Janne Bondi Johannessen. Multilingual Ethiopia: Linguistic Challenges and Capacity Building Efforts. University of Oslo, 2016.
  • Mendisu, Binyam Sisay, and Moges Yigezu. "Restoring African Studies to Its Linguistic Identity: Reflections on Ethiopian Studies." Social Dynamics 40, no. 2 (2014): 289-307.
  • "What is in a Term? A Historical and Linguistic Examination of the Revolutionary Terminology – yiwdem 'let it be demolished' in Amharic 1974-1977." Journal of Northeast African Studies 13, no. 1 (2013): 53-70.
  •  "Ethiopian Linguistics at the Dawn of the 21st Century." Journal of Ethiopian Studies 42, no. 1/2 (June-December 2009): 69-83.