Somaliland is attracting an increasing number and diversity of research projects, offering interesting opportunities for researchers to participate in interesting and potentially valuable projects designed to better understand Somaliland, it’s people and its context. A significant number of young Somali scholars are also pursuing PhDs and other research degrees which call for a similar understanding of research methodologies. This workshop will provide an introduction, over five days, to the different approaches and methods used to collect data in academic and policy-focused research projects. It will cover both qualitative and quantitative methods, and will consider research ethics and the ontologies and epistemologies related to different ways of understanding the research process.
This workshop is being supported by the Development Planning Unit (DPU) of UCL (University College London), UK.
It will be take by Dr Mohamud Hashi Hussein and Dr Michael Walls.
Dr Mohamud Hashi Hussein is an economist with over 20 years of experience in industry, the public sector and research in the UK, and more recently in Somaliland. He has an excellent understanding of the challenges and opportunities for research in the Somali Horn of Africa, as well as in a wide range of thematic areas employing both quantitative and qualitative methods. His research skills and expertise include the quantitative analysis of business responses to regulation and market incentives, and qualitative analysis of behavioural drivers for the uptake of new technologies. Most recent work includes extensive research on the political economy of regulatory policies, including regulatory capture by industry interests.
Dr Michael Walls is a Senior Lecturer at UCL’s Bartlett Development Planning Unit (DPU) and, and for the past fourteen years, his research has focused on the political economy of the Somali Horn of Africa, including the evolving political settlement in Somaliland. He was Chief Observer for the international observation mission to Somaliland’s 2017 presidential election, and has also been a member of the coordination team for missions in 2005, 2010 and 2012 as well as the 2016 Voter Registration process. Michael was Principal Investigator for the ESRC-funded research project ‘Political Settlement in Somaliland: a gendered perspective’, and is currently part of the research team looking at Complex Land Markets in Somaliland and Uganda.
The Hargeysa International Book Fair, in collaboration with the journal Eastern African Literary and Cultural Studies and the Universities of Bristol and Exeter, invites applications to a four-day academic writing workshop for early career scholars based on the African continent. This workshop aims to facilitate the preparation of academic journal articles for submission to and publication in high-impact international journals, while also offering opportunities for mentorship and collaboration.
Organised around the theme ‘African Literature and Cultural Production in the 21st Century’, the workshop will run from 15-19 July 2019, facilitated by the Editors of Eastern African Literary and Cultural Studies and an expert team of academics. Across the four days, participants will learn the basics of how to identify and target appropriate academic journals; the writing, submission and publication process; research methods; writing book reviews; how to adapt conference papers and thesis chapters into journal articles; and writing successful grant applications.
In addition, participants will be paired with a mentor and a peer review group for the duration of the workshop for both peer and one-on-one feedback with the aim of revising draft articles to submission-ready pieces. A range of editors and publishers from high-impact journals publishing research in African literature and cultural studies will provide expert advise and top tips for getting published. Following the workshop, all participants will have the opportunity to engage in a four-month period of mentorship to revise their articles to submission.
We particularly welcome applications from scholars working in the Horn of Africa and Eastern Africa, as well as those working on topics related to literature and culture from these regions. A creative writing workshop facilitated by Billy Kahora and Nadifa Mohamed will take place concurrently, offering opportunities to develop new creative-academic collaborations, and we are especially interested in work which spans this divide.
Accommodation will be provided for all participants, and we are also able to offer limited travel bursaries for scholars based on the African continent.
How to apply:
To qualify for the workshop you must be either a PhD student or early-career (within seven years of PhD award) scholar, based on the African continent and working on any area of African literary and cultural studies (including African cultural history, performance, literatures, music, visual cultures, gender, media and technology, creative industries, cultures of peace, world literature and postcolonial studies). To apply, please send a 300-500 word article abstract and short cv (including date or expected date of PhD conferral) to email@example.com with the subject line ‘HIBF writing workshop’ by 20 May 2019.
Hargeysa: Exploring social cohesion in a segmented city
In collaboration with the Institute for Research, Heritage Preservation and Development (IRHPD), and Redsea Cultural Foundation
Sunday 1 September to Friday 6 September 2019
Hargeysa, the capital city and commercial hub for the internationally unrecognised state of Somaliland is a rapidly expanding city of about 800,000. Almost completely reduced to rubble by the forces of Siyad Barre’s Somalia government in 1988, this ex-British administrative centre has seen its population mushroom as people have returned from exile in refugee camps in Ethiopia and from a dispersed globally diaspora. The city now houses about a third of Somaliland’s population, although the lack of census data makes that hard to substantiate.
Unilaterally declaring independence from Somalia in May 1991, Somaliland embarked on a series of peace and state-building conferences over the following six years, with major conferences in 1991, 1993 and, finally in Hargeysa in 1997, eventually adopting a new constitution and establishing the basis for a system of multi-party democracy that continues to evolve today. The past 22 years have been notable for their peace and stability. Indeed, it is precisely that period of sustained calm that has enabled Hargeysa’s rapid expansion. The city is today a bustling commercial centre boasting strong links with a diverse array of trading partners around the world, facilitated by sizeable diasporic communities in the Gulf states, US, Canada, Netherlands and UK amongst others.
The city is divided along clan lines, with areas dominated by each of Somaliland’s main clan groups. While there is no formal restriction on where a person may buy land or live, strong social norms ensure neighbourhoods remain relatively segmented. Most housing adopts a villa style within a compound, which retains the pastoralist custom of a temporary dwelling (known as an aqal) in an enclosure. Unsurprisingly, the wealthier the household the more lavish the villa, but most still adopt that broadly similar pattern, from small tin dwellings to large multi-storey structures. A significant number of the poorest, though, live in aqals adapted from rural use, either clustered in Internally Displaced People areas, or dispersed between existing plots.
Infrastructure in Hargeysa has expanded in a haphazard manner as the city has grown. The relatively small municipal electricity grid now extends to an area covering only a minority of those living in the city. Much electric power is supplied by small- or medium-scale neighbourhood generating businesses that use diesel generators. This has the dual effect of making Hargeysa’s power supply remarkably resilient, but also amongst the most expensive anywhere. It is also notably environmentally inefficient. Water is similarly largely privatised, with the piped municipal supply restricted in scope and availability. Most residents rely wholly or partially on supply by donkey cart for the poorer residents or tanker for those who can afford it. Roads are poorly maintained, with many sealed by local communities looking for improved connectivity with the rest of the city.
A rising religious conservatism has affected the city significantly since the 1990s with madrassas (Islamic schools), often funded by patrons in the Gulf, filling the gap left by the collapse of the state-led education system. Also, diaspora Somalis returning from abroad often brought with them a more conservative understanding of Islam based on the salafist or Wahhabist traditions they encountered while away. This has resulted in significant alterations to Somali culture which has long been based on relatively tolerant Sufi traditions that permitted a high degree of mysticism. One consequence of this is that some of the more vibrant aspects of Hargeysa’s street life, which included ‘stereo shops’ with large speakers on the street playing Somali popular and traditional music, and offering bootlegged copies of Bollywood films and music playlists, have completely disappeared.
Somaliland nevertheless boasts a rich array of pastoralist cultural traditions, with poetry playing a central role in social and political discourse. Extended periods of conflict and climate-related crisis –most notably increasingly severe and frequent droughts – have driven urbanisation and resulted in rapid changes in cultural practice. Hargeysa’s physical heritage was largely destroyed in 1988, and what remained has mostly fallen victim to the rapid urban expansion that has occurred since. Nevertheless, the urban form retains many discernible elements that reflect a distinctly Somali identity and culture.
This summerLab will focus on understanding local cultural forms in an urban context substantially altered by past conflict and climate crisis. It will encourage participants (who will, as far as possible, include an equal proportion of local and international delegates) to explore ways that pastoralist and contemporary customs can be retained in a manner that contributes to a positive urban identity in the current period. This will extend to an examination of the ways urban space can be used to encourage social cohesion even where local custom tends to favour the compound dwelling secured behind walls or other barriers. The summerLab will encourage this exploration using a co-working approach, that seeks to bring local and international urbanists together in a dialogue that culminates with the presentation of innovative and exploratory ideas on how Hargeysa might best serve its residents.