Stephanie R. Bjork. Somalis Abroad: Clan and Everyday Life in Finland. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2017.
The clash of clan with the contemporary world
Somalis in the diaspora consider the subject of clan an embarrassment, if not taboo. Yet it remains an ever-present, if understated, component of their daily lives, a foundation of a people displaced by war and unrest.
Drawing on a wealth of ethnographic detail, Stephanie Bjork offers the first study on the messy role of clan or tribe in the Somali diaspora, and the only study on the subject to include women's perspectives. Somalis Abroad illuminates the ways clan is contested alongside ideas of autonomy and gender equality, challenged by affinities towards others with similar migration experiences, transformed because of geographical separation from family members, and leveraged by individuals for cultural capital. Challenging prevailing views in the field, Bjork argues that clan-informed practices influence everything from asylum decisions to managing money. The practices also become a pattern that structures important relationships via constant--and unwitting--effort.
Affecting and insightful, Somalis Abroad offers students and experts alike an instructive example of today's anthropological methods producing a classic ethnography of a misunderstood community.
Stephanie R. Bjork is Professor of Anthropology at Paradise Valley Community College. She is coeditor of From Mogadishu to Dixon: The Somali Diaspora in a Global Context.