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Centre of African Studies: Research


Paper Details

Author: Friederike Teutsch

Title: Collapsing Expectation: National Identity and Disintegration of the State in Somalia

Year: 1999

Backed by the nationalist ideology of politicians, it has been a common assumption of scholars of Somalia that Somalia is ethnically homogenous, and that the Somali people share one religion and culture. Thus it had been held that Somalia is a prototype of the nation-state in Africa. The apparent absurdity of the civil war which Somalia has suffered since 1990 raises questions about this perception which has subsequently been revealed to be a myth that has been created in a nationalist undertone. Linked to colonial rule, boundary drawing, independence, military dictatorship and transformation of the economy changes of the social, moral and political order took place. The break-up of Somalia is not rooted in Somali culture, although it provided the lines along which the conflict occurred. The Somali crisis took place on personal, group and state level, and in this dissertation I focus on the social organisation and institutional side. Dealing with the national identity of the Somali people I accentuate its distinguishing link to the state. 'The Somali crisis' thus marks the failure of a model of nationalism as well as the failure of the post-colonial state.

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