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Political identity, emerging state structures and conflict in northern Somalia

  • Markus V. Höhne (a1)

This paper discusses the logic of political identification by individuals and groups in the context of re-emerging state structures in northern Somalia. Current identities are analysed as political identities, which are both a product of and a driving force behind political and military conflict in the region. In everyday life political cleavages can be bridged by cross-cutting ties based on neighbourhood, intermarriage or common experiences and history. Only when conflict reaches a certain level and violence escalates, do political identities become mutually exclusive and large-scale fighting become a real threat.

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I am grateful to the Max Planck Institute for generously having financed my field research in northern Somalia. This text was improved through the comments of the anonymous referees, and of Dereje Feyissa, Fernanda Pirie and Günther Schlee. I thank Amal Farah for language corrections. An earlier version of the paper was presented at the 9th Somali Studies International Conference in Aalborg, Denmark, and at the ASAUK conference in London, UK, both in September 2004.
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The Journal of Modern African Studies
  • ISSN: 0022-278X
  • EISSN: 1469-7777
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-modern-african-studies
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