Identify approaches that attempt to understand and promote the generation of national identities. What constitutes them? How are they made? What incentives (or other tools) could be used to promote an overarching Somali political entity covering the various clans and regions.
- Most Somalis share the same ethnic group, genealogy, language,
customary law, culture and religion. Despite possessing many
characteristics of national identity, clanship and contract are
fundamental for Somali political units.
- Somalia has many of the traits of what is defined as a nation, and
also of national identity. However, the failure of the central state
to provide and protect the interests of the citizens, coupled with
competing clan identities, among other factors, has meant that Somalis
frequently do not act in the collective interest of the country, but
of their clans and sub-clans.
- Fragmented and competing identities, and low levels of societal
cohesion are key factors that can perpetuate state fragility. The idea
of constructing national identities vis-à-vis other identities is a
key part of nation-building literature.
- It is increasingly recognised that regional, ethnic or clan identities
are not just obstacles, but are also key assets to building
- Much of literature emphasises the limited ability of internal and
external actors to directly promote (and change) national identities.
- Despite these challenges, five prominent areas of methods and tools to
promote national identities are identified: civil engagement, culture,
dialogue, decentralisation and building inclusive institutions.
Herbert, S. Promoting national identities (GSDRC Helpdesk Research Report 978). Governance and Social Development Resource Centre, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK (2013) 13 pp.