Pathways to Resilience

The role of an urban diaspora in post-conflict reconstruction, London and Hargeisa, 1991 to the present day

This project investigates the role of the Somali diaspora in building frameworks of social, political and financial resilience in a post-conflict urban environment. It case-studies the diasporic relationship between London and Hargeisa, capital of the unrecognised state of Somaliland, since civil war ended in 1991.

Recent research confirms the importance of this urban diaspora in resilience, but has focussed on remittance payments. However, Hargeisa’s London diaspora has been central in enabling the city to withstand numerous financial, environmental and demographic shocks since 1991, through robust civic governance, the regeneration of infrastructure, and the formation of grass-roots non-governmental community organisations. These essential aspects of recovery have, it will be shown, rested upon the participation of the London diaspora from afar, and as seasonal or permanent returnees.

This project will detail the long-term patterns underpinning diaspora engagement in these processes since 1991. In particular, the project will interrogate apparent disparities in participation in these three processes by gender- and age-based groups; and the motivations and variation in engagement which define these distinctive diasporic relationships. Thus the project will provide vital knowledge about how communities, formal organisations and urban governments can more effectively engage with urban diaspora populations in post-conflict environments and vice-versa.

Period: 30 months


Joanna Lewis

Dr Joanna Lewis

Associate Professor, Department of International History, LSE 

Dr Lewis is a historian of the historical relationship between Britain and Africa. Her research has focused on the ideology and practice of colonial rule from pre-Scramble, through to the end of the Cold War. Her early research examined colonial government and development theory in British Kenya. She then became concerned with imperialism, politics and culture from the late nineteenth century, to liberation and the post-colonial state in central Africa. She have just finished a monograph on David Livingstone, ideology and humanitarianism, called Empire of Sentiment: Livingstone and myth of Victorian imperialism.

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