Pan-Somali Dreams: Ethiopia, Greater Somalia, and the Somali Nationalist Imagination
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CitationAidid, Safia. 2020. Pan-Somali Dreams: Ethiopia, Greater Somalia, and the Somali Nationalist Imagination. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
AbstractPan-Somali Dreams traces the history of Pan-Somali anticolonial nationalism and the popular desire for a state form, Soomaaliweyn (Greater Somalia), commensurate to the geography of Somali identity. The imposition of colonial rule in the Somali territories saw the partition of the Somali people into five distinct colonial spaces: French Somaliland, British Somaliland, Italian Somaliland, eastern Ethiopia, and northeastern Kenya. This spatial order abruptly changed with the Second World War as Italian and British occupations remapped the colonial geography of the Horn of Africa. The temporarily unifying spatial arrangement of the postwar British Military Administration created the conditions of possibility for the emergence of the Greater Somalia idea, while the restoration of prewar colonial geography galvanized the Pan-Somali nationalist movement leading to Somali independence in 1960. At the crux of the Pan-Somali nationalist imagination was an alternative geography diametrically opposed to the colonial geography of the Horn.
While the Greater Somalia project sought the unification of the five colonially partitioned territories, Shanta Soomaaliyeed (the five Somalias), eastern Ethiopia occupied a unique position in the nationalist imagination. The Somali desire for eastern Ethiopia, known historically as the Ogaden, was in tension with Ethiopian statehood. This tension has led to several conflicts between Somalia and Ethiopia, most notably the Ogaden War of 1977-1978. This dissertation develops an analysis of Ethiopian sovereign statehood as a historical process and shows how the concept of territorial integrity evolved within African politics at the expense of Somali self-determination claims. It shows how the spatial imagination of the Pan-Somali nationalist project requires a rethinking of the state-making possibilities available in the late colonial era and how these possibilities closed as the territorial nation-state with its colonial boundaries became the preferred mode of political organization in postcolonial Africa.
Throughout, this dissertation pays attention to the experiences of Somalis under Ethiopian Empire and illuminates the particular subjectivities, domestic conditions, and contingent politics that informed Pan-Somali insurgency. More broadly, it examines what Greater Somalia meant for Somalis and the affective culture Somali nationalism engendered during the “Pan-Somali moment.” Rather than evaluate the Greater Somalia project in terms of successes and failures, this dissertation tells the story of Pan-Somali nationalism as a possible future in a particular historical moment. Pan-Somali Dreams offers the first comprehensive history of Pan-Somali nationalism and its interaction with the Ethiopian state.
Citable link to this pagehttps://nrs.harvard.edu/URN-3:HUL.INSTREPOS:37365153
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