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  • Author: Timothy Wilson
  • Publication Date: 01-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Bildhaan: An International Journal of Somali Studies
  • Institution: Macalester College
  • Abstract: There were high hopes for a brighter future. After more than two decades of conflict, political uncertainty, multiple droughts and Soma- lia’s worst famine in sixty years, the landscape began to change. The Federal Government lost its transitional status and became officially of State, John Kerry. It appeared that the recovery was not just political. Economic for- tunes were improving as well. Trading activity began to increase again. Shops reopened, rising numbers of diaspora started return- ing and investment firms began opening in Mogadishu. The national post service resumed operations. The Central Bank Act was passed, which simultaneously gave the institution a stronger mandate as well 3 as preclude it from lending to the Government. A veritable construc- tion boom kicked off in Mogadishu, the city received its first ATM cash machine and in June 2015, an agreement between MasterCard and a Somali bank launched the first ever domestic issuance of debit cards. The Wall Street Journal wrote of ‘glimmers of hope’4 while Afri- can Development Bank wrote of a ‘turning point’ due to the ‘positive political and security developments as well as the commitment of the international community.’5 Emerging from the clamour of countless conferences, consultations, summits and high-level meetings, a belief was emerging that this time, something was different. This time, Soma- lia was recovering. Or was it? What turn did Somalia take? As the Federal Government approaches its fifth year, new developments have raised concern over the trajectory and pace of progress. The Prime Minister was dismissed by a no-confidence motion in December 2014. The new Prime Minister, Mr Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmake, took three attempts to success- fully appoint a new cabinet endorsed by parliament. Concerns about corruption have threatened the steady flow of development finance. High profile attacks by Al Shabaab, both within Somalia and beyond, have raised questions about whether the organisation can be con- tained. Meanwhile, instability in Yemen has led to large numbers of refugees arriving into Somalia. It seems timely, therefore, to reassess the pace of progress and trajectory of recovery in Somalia. More than that, it is essential to examine whether economic recovery is occurring at the same pace and align- ment with political and social recovery. If this is not the case, as we will argue, peace-building gains may be temporary. The roots of conflict are grown in the fertile soil of economic desperation. The contribution of this article is to provide an overview of economic recovery in Somalia that is largely absent from the academic litera- ture. We collate and summarise the most recent quantitative statistics available and match these against qualitative information, including government reports and economic analysis. Our primary conclusion is a positive one; for the first time in more than two decades, Soma- lia’s economy is finally beginning to recover. Growth has returned. New market opportunities are being generated. The trade structure is diversifying and confidence is rising among investors, the diaspora and donors. To be clear, this trajectory is fragile. Political uncertainties and the looming arrival of oil exploration are threats that we discuss in this regard. Nonetheless, our primary thesis is that the five years since the establishment of the Federal Government has been, on balance, a positive period for economic reconstruction in Somalia. Our paper is structured as follows. We first make the case for the importance of economic development despite the massive social and political challenges that prevail in Somalia. We then outline the path- way to recovery that has been delineated by the Federal Government. We assess progress along this route and then identify some of the major threats to further progress.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Foreign Direct Investment, Recovery
  • Political Geography: Africa, Somalia
  • Author: Danielle Cotter, Tracey Durner
  • Publication Date: 01-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Bildhaan: An International Journal of Somali Studies
  • Institution: Macalester College
  • Abstract: The vast majority of Somalis who have remained in their country con- tinue to rely on remittance money sent from abroad. Although smaller waves of immigration have occurred for many years, prolonged political and economic turmoil coupled with periods of violence and humanitarian crisis have caused the number of Somali immigrants to spike in the last twenty years. This population outflow has resulted in an extensive diaspora network across the globe, with communities established across the Greater Horn of Africa, the Gulf States, North America, and Europe. Estimates on the size of the Somali diaspora range from 1–1.5 million people globally,2 or approximately 14 percent of Somalia’s total population. These diaspora communities have traditionally remained actively engaged on Somali political and economic developments from their adopted countries. One of the diaspora’s primary ties to the homeland comes in the form of remittances—money that is sent on a regular basis to family and friends in Somalia. These funds have often been called a lifeline for the Somali people, covering the costs of needs such as food, education, and health care. Although the exact scale of remittance flows is difficult to pinpoint, estimates have ranged from $750 million to $1.6 billion annually and these funds account for nearly 60 percent of the Somali recipients’ average annual incomes.
  • Topic: Security, Diaspora, Political stability, Immigrants
  • Political Geography: Africa, Somalia
  • Author: Helmi Ben Meriem
  • Publication Date: 01-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Bildhaan: An International Journal of Somali Studies
  • Institution: Macalester College
  • Abstract: Nuruddin Farah was born in 1945 in Baidoa, west of Mogadishu. In 1976, he was declared a persona non grata by the Somali president and dictator Siad Barre, who banished Farah into exile because his writings were seen as a rigorous and harsh critique of Barre, especially four of his early eight novels, which attacked the dictatorship in Somalia. However, Farah’s fiction not only attacks the dictatorship in Somalia, but it also criticizes the country’s most cherished traditions, values, and beliefs. For example, in his first novel From a Crooked Rib (1970), he breaks the homosexuality taboo in Somalia by questioning the inabil- ity to think of sex outside of the paradigm of heterosexuality, and in some of his later novels, he brings in the issues of incest, pedophilia, bestiality, and murder. Farah is one prominent figure of Anglophone literature in Africa, along with Achebe, and Soyinka. He is also con- sidered as the next most likely African Anglophone writer to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature after the Nigerian Wole Soyinka in 1986 and the South African Doris Lessing in 2007. Farah is described, among other things, as the “gift from Africa to contemporary world literature” (Bardolph, “On Nuruddin” 121). Farah’s fiction extends over more than eleven novels and other fictive and non-fictive writings. Most criticism of his fiction focuses mainly on four issues: the writing about Somalia in exile, the intertex- tuality between his fiction and other writers, the poetics of Farah’s fic- tion, and the feminist aspects of his fiction and how it presents a new image of Somalia. Indeed, one of the most interesting readings of Far- ah’s fiction is a gender-based one; the authenticity, with which Farah tackles the issues of womanhood and gender has pushed some of his readers to think of him as a woman, even sending him letters address- ing him as “she.” In this respect, the Nigerian scholar J. I. Okonkwo has argued that Farah is one of few others who have “done the greatest justice to female existence in his writing” (217). In a comparison estab- lished by Okonkwo, Soyinka is seen as depicting women as either a disguised or undisguised prostitute, Achebe depicting women as an appendage to men, and Farah depicting women simply as women, with all the variations and at times contradictions (216). Farah’s feminist attitudes have given him the title of “Africa’s first feminist male writer” by Kirsten Hoist Petersen (249). Indeed, Farah is well aware of his feminist attitudes; he states in his essay “A View of Home From the Outside” that he is interested in those denied their rights, be it women or men, and in the struggle behind it (qtd. in Okonkwo 217). Eventually, the women in Farah’s fiction become instruments to reconstruct Somalia and to reshape society by giving a new meaning to womanhood. In his fiction, women’s struggle for freedom and for the right to voice themselves become an allegory for a nation in search of its voice. New womanhood becomes interchange- able with a new Somalia, and eventually, Somalia becomes once more the mother, as opposed to its status as a father-land in a dictatorial system. His first novel, From a Crooked Rib, seen by Richard Dowden as “a dazzling spark” of light in the dark tunnel of silencing women (Intro- duction, vii), could be regarded as a feminist manifesto. If we were to describe this novel, we would resort to a line from “The Rights of Women” a poem by Anna Laetitia Barbauld: “Injured Woman! Rise, assert thy right” (28). From a Crooked Rib is a third person omniscient narrative about the story of Ebla, a Somali woman defying her society and escaping her family, who were forcing her into an arranged mar- riage. This novel, with its genuine depiction and voicing of oppressed women, has been widely read and acclaimed, and studied as an authentic representation of the Somali society. This paper aims at read- ing From a Crooked Rib from a Foucauldian perspective in order to highlight the forces that shape the lives of Somali women. The empha- sis will be on the relationship between the discourses used to contain the Somali woman and her body. We will try to set a link between the different discourses and the body within the dialectics of writing/(un) writing and silencing/voicing. Thus, this paper is divided into two major parts: first, a concise overview of the Foucauldian approach to discourse and power, and second, an examination of the different discourses that govern the body of the Somali woman. The second part will root the Foucauldian approach in a gender-related reading and will be divided into two sub-parts: the writing and the un-writing of the woman body.
  • Topic: Gender Issues, Women, Literature, Sexuality
  • Political Geography: Africa, Somalia
  • Author: Karen del Biondo
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Kolleg-Forschergruppe (KFG)
  • Abstract: The Joint Africa-EU Strategy (JAES), which was adopted in 2007, aimed to break with the traditional do¬nor-recipient relationship between the EU and Africa and to develop a true partnership. The concept of partnership has been central in EU-Africa relations ever since the Lomé Agreement (1975), but many have argued that it has been eroded by conditionalities and the end of special trade preferences. Ideally, a partnership is characterized by shared values, equality and trust, but are these principles reflected in the JAES? This study investigates this question by focusing on the thematic partnerships on peace and security and democratic governance and human rights. The paper argues that, despite the power asymmetries between the EU and Africa, the JAES has been characterized by equality in decision-making and by African ownership in capacity-building. However, while the JAES may objectively be based on shared values, the EU and the AU have often differed on how to apply those values in concrete situations, more particularly on the question which type of intervention is acceptable (conditionality, military intervention, etc.). Moreover, the analysis identifies a general feeling of mistrust amongst both parties in the partnership.
  • Topic: Security, Human Rights, Governance
  • Political Geography: Africa, Europe
  • Author: Angela Pennisi di Floristella
  • Publication Date: 01-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Kolleg-Forschergruppe (KFG)
  • Abstract: Why, following the EU's first attempts at advancing community cooperation in civil protection and the creation of the EU civil protection mechanism, has ASEAN undertaken new initiatives, such as the adoption of a legally binding accord, AADMER and a formal institution, the AHA Center, largely comparable to the institutional innovations endorsed by the EU, in the same issue area? Can these developments be interpreted simply as the result of independent decision-making by ASEAN or are they at least a partial outcome of a transfer process? The aim of this study is to contribute to the emerging debate on European influence in Southeast Asia, taking into account how processes of policy and institutional transfer may lead ASEAN's region builders to learn from the EU's experience. Specifically, by discussing the case of disaster management, which has remained largely unexplored by comparative IR literature, this study argues that independent problem solving does not offer an adequate explanation of ASEAN's developments. Conversely, lesson drawing and emulation are suggested as the two most relevant underlying mechanisms which can explain the gradual and selective adoption of an EU-like model of disaster cooperation.
  • Political Geography: Europe, Asia
  • Author: Fredrik Soderbaum
  • Publication Date: 10-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Kolleg-Forschergruppe (KFG)
  • Abstract: By tracing the intellectual roots and main characteristics of the scholarly debates on regionalism in different time periods, this Working Paper seeks to contribute to the consolidation of a fragmented field of study in search of its own intellectual history. The paper identifies four main intellectual phases: early regionalism, old regionalism (in both Europe and the developing world), new regionalism, and the current phase of regionalism, referred to as comparative regionalism. It argues that progress in the study of (comparative) regionalism requires a better understanding of the intellectual roots of the field and an acknowledgment of the many types of regions that have occurred in many different historical contexts.
  • Topic: Regional Cooperation, Developing World, Intellectual History, regionalism
  • Political Geography: Europe, Global Focus
  • Author: Nils Dupont, Detlef Jahn
  • Publication Date: 10-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Kolleg-Forschergruppe (KFG)
  • Abstract: This paper develops an index for estimating the position of the European Union in various policy fields and ideological dimensions. The index is designed for macro-comparative studies, which currently mainly use a dummy variable as a proxy for the impact of the EU on domestic politics, policies and outcomes. The index assesses the position of each European institution (European Council, Council of Ministers, Commission, and European Parliament) and takes the frequently changing decision-making rules between these institutions into account. Based on an actor-centered approach the index links policy preferences of actors with formal and informal decision-making rules. The index thereby appraises the impact of the EU on its member states in greater detail and is therefore suitable for analyses of most urgent research questions concerning the relationship between the EU and its member states. Furthermore, the index allows a calculation of the positional and ideological misfits between the EU and each individual member state on an annual basis. Questions about an ideological bias of the EU or problems of compliance can thus be analyzed with greater precision than before. To illustrate our index we use data on the left-right dimension, which has proven to be highly relevant in macro-quantitative studies. The data is available for quarterly and annual longitudinal analyses from 1966 to 2012.
  • Topic: Regional Cooperation, European Union, Domestic Policy
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Ed Stoddard
  • Publication Date: 12-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Kolleg-Forschergruppe (KFG)
  • Abstract: Regional cooperation, once largely the preserve of democracies, is now seen in many regions characterized by autocracy. Indeed, authoritarian leaders increasingly cooperate regionally, above all to augment the resilience of their regimes. While the output from this cooperation differs considerably from liberal-democratic regionalism, the experience of European integration nevertheless sheds light on an important underlying dynamic within this growing autocratic cooperation. Indeed, as with early and mid-stage European regional integration, authoritarian regionalism is driven by functional demands arising from the limited access nature of their regimes. However, countervailing ideational dynamics (such as the increasing salience of identity and legitimacy issues), which affect regional cooperation, are present in many cases. These counter-functional dynamics largely pre-date regionalist efforts but appear to be exacerbated by regional cooperation. This paper examines the interplay between functional demands and counter-functional dynamics in the context of ‘protective regionalisms’ in Eurasia, the Gulf, and West Africa. As global politics becomes more polarized, with regionalism seen as a source of strength for authoritarian states, the dynamics and underlying logics of such projects become increasingly important.
  • Topic: Regional Cooperation, Authoritarianism, Geopolitics, regionalism
  • Political Geography: Africa, Europe, Asia, West Africa, Persian Gulf
  • Author: Bojan Vranic
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Central European University Political Science Journal
  • Institution: Central European University
  • Abstract: This paper is an attempt to defend the thesis of essential contestedness against the criticism of its logical inconsistency. The author believes that such criticism results from a misconception of whether Gallie's thesis of essential contestedness can be applied to terms such as politics, law, or history. On the example of politics, the author attempts to demonstrate that this term cannot be essentially contested for at least two reasons: firstly, politics is not a concept, but a general term; secondly, it is the appraisals of the concept that are essentially contested, not the concepts themselves. The author of the paper believes that these claims will dispel the doubts about the logical consistency of the idea of essential contestability.
  • Topic: Politics
  • Author: Narek Mkrtchyan
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Central European University Political Science Journal
  • Institution: Central European University
  • Abstract: The paper deals with the processes of overcoming Russian 'colonial' impediments to the creation of symbolic spaces for the emergence of a new national self - consciousness in Kazakhstan. The paper highlights the importance of Nazarbaev's decision to transfer to and construct a new capital Astana in fostering the ideas of national identity and ethnic belonging. Therefore, an attempt has been made to observe the phenomena of urbanization and reformulation of state symbols in explaining both ethnic and civic mec hanisms of influences on people's consciousness. Additionally, the works of various Kazakh intellectuals and cultural figures have been taken into consideration to examine the notion of Kazakhness and its' contribution to the development of the Kazakh nati onal identity. Content analysis of architectural design of Astana and state symbols is essential to understand the vision of Kazakhstan's imagined future.
  • Topic: Reform
  • Political Geography: Russia, Kazakhstan