Imagining the Somali lands: nationalism in a transnational public sphere, and the political reconfiguration of Somalia
Chonka, Peter James
This thesis examines the 'public sphere' of state reconstruction and political conflict across the Somali territories through comparative discursive and contextual analysis of media production and consumption on the ground in Somalia. Using Somali-language media sources - including political cartoons, editorials, radio broadcasts and audio-visual propaganda - the chapters cumulatively present a dual conceptualisation of the public sphere in the Somali context. Here, local media production centred in individual capitals of various political projects (The Somali Federal Government, Somaliland and Puntland) coexists and overlaps with a transnational arena of Somali-language broadcasting and debate from various externally-based media producers. These range from the British Broadcasting Corporation‟s Somali Service and popular diaspora-based satellite television stations, to sophisticated 'jihadi' propagandists, or individual geographically-detached cartoonists. Internationalised dynamics of economic and political change across the territories render distinctions between 'diasporic' and 'local' media production analytically unhelpful. At the same, ongoing popular rhetorical contestation over 'foreign' influence ensures an ostensibly paradoxical (and politically salient) discursive resilience of a culturally and religiously-defined 'Somali Ummah' across and beyond political boundaries. Although significant academic attention has been directed towards the role of decentralized 'new' or 'social' media and possibilities for civic agency vis-á-vis coherent, authoritarian state structures, the thesis argues that the Somali case highlights the significance of such public sphere technologies in altering discursive, political and security conditions for state (re)construction in socially fragmented and conflict scarred environments.
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