Political Culture in Somalia : Tracing Paths to Peace and Conflict

Abstract: The purpose of this dissertation is to apply the political culture concept to and then examine its historical implications for the variant conditions of peace and conflict in contemporary Somalia. Within peace and conflict research, political culture is a concept which has not been examined as a possible contributing factor to peace or conflict, and part of this is due to a restricted understanding of it. By relying on existing literature in the field (Diamond, Eckstein, Pye) to expand this concept, it is then applied to the case of Somalia, which currently is divided into three separate entities with three distinct outcomes. These outcomes are observable as the unrecognized state of Somaliland in the northwest, the autonomous Puntland State of Somalia in the northeast, and the southern region of Somalia, particularly the Mogadishu area. The former two are relatively peaceful, economically growing and centrally ruled polities, while the latter region experiences chronic violent conflict, economic uncertainty, and warlord politics. These three distinct outcomes suggest varying political culture legacies. Indicators for the concept are established by utilizing political culture "themes" which have been observed in the relevant literature. Beginning in the early 1800s, a longitudinal study of the development of separate trends in political culture in Somalia is undertaken. Distinct regional trends in political culture can be detected as far back in time as the precolonial period in the early 1800s, and these trends only become stronger during the colonial era, when Great Britain established itself as a protectorate in the northwest and Italy attempted to colonize the south and establish control over the northeast. The more positive trends on the northern coastal area appear to have been facilitated by Britain's relative disinterest in conquest and colonization of the area, and the less positive trends in the south were exacerbated by the harsh pratices of Italian colonization and Fascist ideology. With few breaks in these disparate trends over time, and these trends also carrying through to the present, it is suggested that contemporary differences between the regions are at least partly explained by their political culture legacies. Although this does not nullify any contemporary explanations which have been forwarded, it supplements and informs them. This dissertation suggests that in order to understand contemporary peace and conflict or offer prescriptions for prolonged conflict, it is important to identify and recognize the nature of and how deeply rooted these trends of peace and conflict actually are.

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