SSIA Congress 2015

REVISITING SOMALI IDENTITIES –
ADDRESSING GENDER, GENERATION AND BELONGING

12th Somali Studies International Association (SSIA) Congress

The 12th SSIA Congress will be held in Helsinki, Finland, 19–23 August 2015, in cooperation with University of Helsinki, University of Jyväskylä, University of Eastern Finland, Finnish Youth Research Society and Finnish Somalia Network.

The title of the 12th SSIA Congress is Revisiting Somali Identities – Addressing Gender, Generation and Belonging. The congress pays close attention to the complex and multidimensional nature of Somali identity and its presentation both in Somalia and in the diaspora communities. The congress challenges its participants to explore the diverse and often intersecting aspects of Somali identity, such as gender, generation, geography, culture, ethnicity and religion. It also seeks to scrutinize the different practices and processes through which resettlement societies enable or hinder the inclusion and membership of their Somali population. Furthermore, the congress will address the rebuilding process of Somalia, and the multiple factors shaping this process (e.g. political, economic, gender-related, and transnational).

Addressing multidimensional Somali identities requires reflections on history, tradition and religion, as well as on current social, political and economic conditions. Therefore, the congress will be multidisciplinary drawing from various fields and perspectives so that it would be possible to address the fundamental questions of Somali identity both in the Horn of Africa and in the diaspora.

The congress will revolve around the following themes and questions:

Generation: What kind of social, ethnic, national, religious and transnational identifications do Somalis of different generations employ? What kind of meanings and values are reflected in their identity formations and expressions? How do differ in terms of generations? How do Somalis of different generations and gender navigate through the maze of expectations and norms of families, communities, institutions and society? How are generational relations negotiated?

Gender: How does the identity construction of Somali boys and girls differ? How do Somali men and women make sense of, negotiate, or transform the gender norms of their families, communities and the larger society? In what ways gender differentiates Somali men’s and women’s lived realities, access to resources, memberships and participation in differ societal contexts?

Membership and citizenship: What kind of forms of identity, memberships, citizenship and participation are available for Somalis? How are identities and forms of participation shaped on different levels in different contexts? In what ways Somalis embrace, renegotiate or change them? What does citizenship mean to Somalis in different contexts and how do they experience and enact it?

Rebuilding Somalia: What kind of roles the Somali state, international communities, civil society and diaspora communities do have in the process of rebuilding Somalia? What is the role of gender and generation in this process? What kind of society, culture(s) and identities are being built by the rebuilding process of Somalia? What kind of political and economic processes and institutions are taking shape in ongoing state formation and rebuilding of the society?

Presentation of identities: How are (changing) Somali identities produced and articulated in the media, and in cultural productions such as art, films, songs, etc.? How are Somalis perceived in the countries of settlement? What kind of impact public discourses have on the self-identification of the Somalis?