12th Somali Studies International Association (SSIA) Congress Revisiting Somali Identities – Addressing Gender, Generation and Belonging (Re-)Making Somali State(s): Dimensions of Territorial Ordering and Political Identification ORGANIZERS Dr Markus Hoehne (University of Leipzig) E-mail: [email protected] Faduma Abukar Mursal (Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology) E-mail: [email protected] DISCUSSANT Prof. Lee Cassanelli (University of Pennsylvania) E-mail: [email protected] DESCRIPTION The question of nation-state formation has been widely debated in the Somali case, from the early post-colonial period onward. Initially, Somalis were considered a ‘nation in search of state’ (Laitin and Samatar (1987). More recently, the Somali situation was complicated by state failure, flight and the ‘radical localization’ of politics inside collapsed Somalia (Menkhaus 1998); simultaneously the Somali nation became profoundly globalized (Gundel 2002). This poses the question which identity and territorial constructions would underpin the future Somali state(s). Political identities in the Somali setting have usually been envisioned as one-dimensional. Patrilineal descent (‘clan’) and more recently Islam, were considered the main bases of collective identity formation and the foundation on which a state should be (re-)build (as reflected in the 4.5-formula underlying the TNG and the TFG, or the ideology of the Islamic Courts). However, careful analyses show that clan and Islam are aspects of a bigger reservoir of possible identifications that can be mobilized in particular situations. Categories such as gender, age, local/diasporic and class-belonging or elite membership play a role in this regard. Moreover, the global dispersal and the resulting transnational political dynamics facilitated new identifications and the introduction of new political ideas. Therefore, discussing the issue of contemporary Somali state (re-)making requires a broad and flexible approach. The panel addresses these issues by paying special attention to dynamics of political identities and questions of territorial political ordering. For this, we consider ‘state formation’ as ‘the multitude of discrete operations, procedures and representations in which [state] appears in the everyday life of ordinary people’ (Hansen and Stepputat 2001). We argue that although the central state has long been weak, manifold imaginations of state pervade identity discourses of Somalis worldwide and also found their expression in new territorial arrangements in the Somali peninsula. More specifically, this panel aims at analyzing the ways in which Somali actors appropriate meanings of the state, and to what extent this plays out in structuring their political identities and territorial political orders. We argue that for many Somalis around the globe, the Somali state including more recent political entities, such as Somaliland and Puntland, is a central factor in their identity-related discourse. The papers in this panel illustrate how particular social agents define what Somali state(s) refer(s) to and how this reflects their current interests and needs. They discuss local, regional or (trans-)national state formation by negotiating political orders and experimenting with territorial constructions of state(s); this of course also involves engagement with external policies toward the Somali setting by neighboring states or the international community.
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