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Department of Social Anthropology

1200x350 CWoolner 4691


Transforming political subjectivities in Somaliland: the politics of poetry and poetry of politics

This project will explore transforming modes of political subjectivity in Somaliland. In what is often called a "nation of poets", I will use the 2017 “miimley” poetry chain – which focused on issues of corruption and democracy – to unpack gendered and generational shifts in ideas of "voice" and political belonging. While similar to debate chains of earlier generations, I am especially interested in the extent to which subtle shifts in the form, content and circulation of this chain - including the more straightforward language and metre poets deployed, the higher participation of women and diaspora poets, and the use of social media - might index and/or facilitate broader shifts in ideas of political participation and democracy.

Located at the intersection of social anthropology, African politics and studies of Somali orature, this project speaks to timely questions about the politics of "voice", while also offering an alternative perspective on political life in a region that has long confounded international observers.

Awarding Grant body: Leverhulme Trust (match-funded by the Isaac Newton Trust)


Dr Christina  Woolner
Affiliated Researcher