Keynote Speakers

Thursday, 20th August 2015

11.00: Keynote I
Main Building of the University of Helsinki
Small Hall (4th floor)

Dr Afyare Elmi
Assistant Professor
Qatar University
Doha, Qatar

Title of the keynote speech:
Constructing Inclusive Citizenship in Somalia: Challenges and Opportunities

Dr Afyare A. Elmi, a Somali-Canadian political scientist, teaches international politics at Qatar University’s International Affairs Department. He is the author of “Understanding the Somalia Conflagration: Identity, Political Islam and Peacebuilding”. His research interests include international security, state-building, conflict, identity and peacebuilding. Dr Elmi has a BA in Public Administration from Ryerson University, an MA in Political Science from Brock University, a second MA in Education Policy from the University of Toronto, and a PhD in political science (sub-field, international relations) from the University of Alberta. He is the lead investigator of a collaborative research project that studies piracy in the Horn of Africa. Dr Elmi has provided comments to the major media outlets including the New York Times, Al-Jazeera Channel, BBC, Reuters News Agency, Radio France International and the Voice of America. He has also published articles in the International Herald Tribune, the Boston Globe, the Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star, the Edmonton Journal and Al-Jazeera Online.

Friday, 21st August 2015

09.00: Keynote II
Main Building of the University of Helsinki
Small Hall (4th floor)

Dr Mohamed Haji Mukhtar
Professor of African and Middle Eastern History
Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Savannah State University
Savannah (GA), USA

Title of the keynote speech:
Multilingual Somalia: Ploy or Pragmatics

Mohamed Haji Mukhtar is a Professor of African and Middle Eastern History at Savannah State University. He holds PhD from Al-Azhar University, Cairo, Egypt. He is the author of the Historical Dictionary of Somalia (2003), co-author of the English-Maay Dictionary (2007), The Rise and Expansion of Islam. In Jason Tatlock (ed.) The Middle East: Its History and Culture (2012), The Plight of the Agro-Pastoral Society of Somalia (ROAPE 1996), Islam in Somali History: Fact and Fiction. In Ali Jimale Ahmed (ed.), The Invention of Somalia (1995), along with numerous articles and chapter on conflict resolutions and peace-making.

14.30: Keynote III
House of Science and Letters
Hall 104 (1st floor)

Dr Mulki Al-Sharmani
Academy Research Fellow
Study of Religions, University of Helsinki
Helsinki, Finland

Title of the keynote speech:
Marriage and Family Life among Somali-Finnish Women and Men:
Reflections on Gender, Law and Ethics

Mulki Al-Sharmani is currently working on two research projects, funded by the Academy of Finland. In the team research project titled “Transnational Muslim Marriages in Finland: Wellbeing, Law, and Gender”, and directed by Dr Marja Tiilikainen, Dr Al-Sharmani is the lead researcher in one of the three studies of the project, investigating marriage norms and practices among Somalis in Finland. In the second and her own research project entitled “Islamic Feminism: Tradition, Authority, and Hermeneutics”, she is studying selected Muslim feminist engagements with scared texts and Islamic interpretive tradition both transnationally and nationally, taking Egypt as a case study. Dr Al-Sharmani received her doctorate in cultural anthropology from Johns Hopkins University, USA, in 2005. Her doctorate thesis, which was titled “Somali Diaspora in Cairo: Refugees and Citizens”, researched Somali refugees and transnational migrants in Egypt and their network of families in North America and Europe, focusing on the interplay of community-building, livelihood strategies, and experiences of citizenship. She has researched and published on the following: transnational migration, family life, and gender with a focus on the Somali Diaspora in the Middle East, North America, and recently Finland; the relationship between Islamic jurisprudence and modern Muslim family laws; gender activism and legal reform in the Middle East; the question of interpretation and epistemological authority in relation to contemporary Muslim women’s engagements with sacred texts and Islamic interpretive tradition.

Saturday, 22nd August 2015

11.00: Keynote IV
House of Science and Letters
Hall 104 (1st floor)

Dr Yusuf Sheikh Omar
Researcher
La Trobe University
Melbourne, Australia

Title of the keynote speech:
Somali Youth Identity and Sense of Belonging in Western Context

Yusuf Sheikh Omar works as a researcher at Victorian Transcultural Mental Health, St Vincent’s Hospital. He holds PhD in refugee studies from La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia. Formerly, Omar has worked as a researcher at the University of Melbourne and as a teacher at Victoria and La Trobe universities. He has published widely in national and international academic journals as well as in the leading Australian newspapers. He is a writer, a poet, a peace activist and passionate with refugees, asylum seekers and people in difficult situations, e.g. displaced people and those living in war-torn countries. Omar is a former member of African Ministerial Consultative Committee for the Australian Federal Goverment (2012–2013). He is also an independent consultant on intercultural and forced migration issues. Omar has received numerous awards including “Ambassador for Peace” from the Universal Peace Federation (2013).

15.30: Keynote V
House of Science and Letters
Hall 104 (1st floor)

Dr Marja Tiilikainen
Academy Research Fellow, Adjunct Professor
Department of Social Research, University of Helsinki
Helsinki, Finland

Title of the keynote speech:
Insecurities, Resources and Transnational Bonds:
Experiences of Canadian-Somali and Finnish-Somali Families

Marja Tiilikainen holds PhD in comparative religion from the University of Helsinki. She has conducted long-term research on Somali migrants and carried out ethnographic research in Finland, Northern Somalia and Canada. Her main research interests include everyday Islam, cultural aspects of health and healing, transnational family life, and human security, and she currently leads two research projects related to Somali diaspora funded by the Academy of Finland. She is the author of Arjen islam: Somalinaisten elämää Suomessa [Everyday Islam: The Life of Somali Women in Finland] (Vastapaino 2003). Some of her latest publications include articles in the Nordic Journal of Migration Research (2013) and Transcultural Psychiatry (2014) as well as in the edited books of Medicine, Mobility and Power in Global Africa (Indiana University Press 2012) and Everyday Lived Islam in Europe (Ashgate 2013). She was Principal Researcher in the Somalis in Helsinki study (Open Society Foundations 2013). She is also Editor of Afrikan Sarvi (Horn of Africa Journal) published by the Finnish Somalia Network.