Lidwien Kapteijns, born in St. Michielsgestel, the Netherlands, in 1951. Ph.D. from the University of Amsterdam. Professor of History at Wellesley College.
Fellow (1 February 2008 – 30 June 2008)
SOMALI POPULAR CULTURE AND THE CHANGING NATIONAL IMAGINARY, 1960-2005
My project focuses on Somali poetry and popular songs to examine how these forms of cultural production in the public sphere mediate – understand, represent and attempt to intervene in – the ongoing violence of the Somali civil war.
By first focusing on Somali poetry and songs about the city of Mogadishu as a site for memory-making, I show that Somali popular culture in the public sphere mediates violence through three discourses, those of clan/clanism, nation/nationalism, and Islam/Islamism. Using the symbol of the barber pole (the tube or pole that has three strands and turns around and upwards), I argue that the Somali mediations of violence I study are deeply interdiscursive and that the discursive strand of Islam/Islamism has not only been growing stronger but has also lit up (again) the discursive strand of nation/nationalism.