Understanding Somalia and Somaliland: Culture, History, Society

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Overview

"Lewis provides a unique window into this little-known culture and its increasingly public predicaments. He provides insight into the complex social, historical, and cultural hinterland that is the Somali heritage and pays close attention to the pervasive influence of traditional nomadism, especially its extremely decentralized nature." Lewis also addresses developments in the Somali political region since the collapse of the Republic in 1991, including the formation and steady development of the democratic state of Somaliland. Though it has grown into a de facto personality, this self-governing outpost of democracy is still officially unrecognized internationally. Lewis concludes with a discussion of the Islamist movement that brought a brief but astonishing period of stability to much of Southern Somalia in late 2006.
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Editorial Reviews

New Statesman
A sober guide to... why Somalia is much more complicated than most foreigners and diplomats pretend, is Ioan Lewis of the London School of Economics—Britain's, if not the world's, foremost expert on that country. His Understanding Somalia and Somaliland is an excellent short introduction to the tribal, geographic, and historical complexities of a place he has studied, lived in, and visited for several decades.

— Carne Ross

Gerard Prunier
This type of essential description and assessment of a culture and a history can come only from an author so permeated by his subject that writing about it flows in the smooth fashion of a natural phenomenon. If there is one clear lesson that emerges from Ioan Lewis's precise and sweeping assessment it is that Somalia is a walking and moving exception to many rules about the nation-state. Required reading for anyone dealing with Somalia, from diplomats and journalists to NGOs and members of the United Nations.
New Statesman - Carne Ross

A sober guide to... why Somalia is much more complicated than most foreigners and diplomats pretend, is Ioan Lewis of the London School of Economics—Britain's, if not the world's, foremost expert on that country. His Understanding Somalia and Somaliland is an excellent short introduction to the tribal, geographic, and historical complexities of a place he has studied, lived in, and visited for several decades.

Gérard Prunier

This type of essential description and assessment of a culture and a history can come only from an author so permeated by his subject that writing about it flows in the smooth fashion of a natural phenomenon. If there is one clear lesson that emerges from Ioan Lewis's precise and sweeping assessment it is that Somalia is a walking and moving exception to many rules about the nation-state. Required reading for anyone dealing with Somalia, from diplomats and journalists to NGOs and members of the United Nations.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780231700849
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Publication date: 10/14/2008
  • Series: Columbia/Hurst Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 208
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Ioan Lewis is professor emeritus of anthropology at the London School of Economics and author of Arguments with Ethnography: Comparative Approaches to History, Politics, and Religion.

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Table of Contents

Maps

1 The People and their Traditions 1

2 Colonial Rule and Independence: Nomads and Farmers, Socialism and War 27

3 The Collapse in Southern Somalia 71

4 Somaliland and Puntland 93

App. 1 Somali clan families 109

App. 2 Bibliography 110

App. 3 Glossary of terms 121

App. 4 Chronology 123

App. 5 Refugees 129

Index 135

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