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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Destruction of State and Society in Somalia: Beyond the Tribal Convention
Author:Samatar, Abdi I.ISNI
Year:1992
Periodical:Journal of Modern African Studies
Volume:30
Issue:4
Period:December
Pages:625-641
Language:English
Geographic term:Somalia
Subjects:social change
civil wars
Ethnic and Race Relations
Politics and Government
Law, Human Rights and Violence
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/161268
Abstract:The ferocity of the civil war in Somalia urgently calls for an analysis of what went wrong and why such a seemingly homogeneous society has descended into abyss. This article challenges the recent use of ethnicity, particularly in the popular media, to explain intracommunal struggles in many parts of the world. It criticizes the traditionalist explanation of Somali politics in general, and the present catastrophe in particular. The logic of the traditionalist discourse leads to the conclusion that the trouble with Somalia is the nature of its culture, grounded in the clan system. One of the principal weaknesses of this approach is a lack of historical specificity in the use of its key concepts. The search for the causal forces in the destruction of Somalia must begin by tracing the nature of the changes that have taken place in the social rather than the genealogical order of this society. There are two major historical benchmarks in the evolution of contemporary Somalia: 1) the commercialization of the subsistence economy, particularly of pastoralism; and 2) the imposition of a colonial State on a decentralized social structure. Notes, ref.
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