Somalia in Context: Ideology, Clan Identity, and the Rise of Al-Shabaab in Contemporary Somalia
Friday, May 1st, 4:30pm
Reception at Ida Noyes Pub to Follow
Surveying Africa-oriented news media and political science literature for possible causes of Somalia’s cultural and economic deterioration will yield three explanations: the civil war of 1991-1992, warlord dominance following the collapse of the federal government in 1991, and the influx of foreign-born “Jihadists” in the aftermath of American-led, post-9/11 incursions into Afghanistan and Iraq. By themselves, the explanations are not wrong, but they tend to miss something crucial: the social and political roles that clan identity plays in Somalia. By downplaying or ignoring clan identity, accounts about what has caused or accelerated social collapse – as well as proposed remedies for it – are partial at best, missing how clan has been manipulated by various political actors in Somalia to alter the way Somalis view themselves and their neighbors. The aim of my paper is to reintegrate clan (and clan-based identity politics) into the discussion and provide a richer account of the problems Somalia faces today.