Africa to the Rescue? On the Cultural Politics of Interventionism in Somalia

Samar Al-Bulushi- Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of California, Irvine
Mon April 24th 2023, 3:30 - 5:00pm
Event Sponsor
Department of Anthropology
Department of Anthropology
Main Quad - Building 50
Room 50-51A (Colloquium Room) & Zoom

In the immediate aftermath of Kenya’s invasion of Somalia in October 2011, the Kenyan government garnered diplomatic support from other African leaders who characterized the Kenyan incursion as a “historic opportunity” to defeat the Somali militant group Al-Shabaab. Together, these leaders embodied the Africanization of the so-called war on terror: their declarations and assertions of control worked to reframe the war against Al-Shabaab as “our war,” —rather than a war fought by and for US empire. Drawing on my research in Kenya, this talk aims to capture the cultural dimensions of geopolitics, attending to the significance of rhetoric, symbols, and meaning. Approaching the war on terror as a stage for the production of new gendered and racialized fantasies about Kenya’s place in the world, I will explore the cultural politics of interventionism—namely the systems of signification and meaning that cultivate popular support for war. While we have important insights on what this looks like in the post 9/11 US context, we lack an understanding of the transnational histories and multi-scalar politics that—through narratives of global security and cooperation—have contributed to the normalization of militarized intervention across the world.

This is a hybrid event. For Zoom information, please contact pdios54 [at] (pdios54[at]stanford[dot]edu).