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.
Hannah Roh (Divinity PhD Student in the Philosophy of Religions):
“Interrogating Cross-Cultural Inquiry in Philosophy of Religions: A Case Study of Self and Agency in Modern Korean Christianity”
Swift 208 – 4:30pm, adjourning afterwards to The Pub at Ida Noyes
Cross-cultural inquiries of the self in philosophy of religions can proceed to frame the philosophical distinction between ‘self’ and ‘no-self’ as a cultural distinction—between some Western religious traditions and some Eastern religious traditions. One of the more obvious examples that can apply this cultural analysis is the comparative study of the Christian self as part of the Western tradition and the Buddhist non-self as an Eastern practice. What kinds of philosophical and political problems emerge, however, when one religious tradition is historically saturated with cultural dissonance and multiplicity—that is, when the cultural encounter or dissonance between ‘East’ and ‘West’ occurs not between religious traditions, but within (and sometimes, because of) one religious tradition? When the Orthodox Church emerges as a distinct Christian tradition in the East? Or when contemporary Buddhist practices take root in North America or Europe, or when Christianity spreads (through missionary or colonial activity or for other complex reasons) over the East? Defending the significance of culturally and politically embodied historical moments, this paper considers the philosophical complexities of culturally heterogeneous religious traditions by undertaking a specific case study of selfhood and agency in twentieth century Korean Christianity. The first part of the paper will sketch the historical elements opened up by theories of the Christian self in the West by considering contemporary works in philosophy of religion that examine modernity and subjectivity. The second part of the paper will then reflect on the implications of displacing and re-constituting those questions of the Christian self in another cultural context. Finally, I hope to open up further methodological questions concerning the political implications of cross-cultural inquiry in philosophy of religions.
For more information or accessibility assistance, please visit http://cas.uchicago.edu/workshops/philofreligions/