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Senior Thesis: Exploring the tensions of unity and diversity in the UK with the integration of Somali refugees

Senior Thesis: Exploring the tensions of unity and diversity in the UK with the integration of Somali refugees

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  • Why is successful assimilation into UK culture so important in 2nd generation children?


  • 1. Defining Unity in the UK: Proof in 2nd Generation Somali Immigrants By Brittany Brown
  • 2. Argument
    • By looking at the integration of 2nd generation Somali immigrants into UK society we can learn that for unity to be upheld, the government must:
      • allow a group to have a strong and stable local community
      • allow use of language
      • allow continuance of cultural customs
      • Be stable enough for the group to have some sort of allegiance to it.
      • allow religious practices
      • I argue the UK is an example of the implementation
      • of both individual and group rights.
  • 3. Pertinent History of Somalia
    • 1886: British Gain Control over Northern Somalia
    • Early 1900’s: rebellion of British rule by Mohamed Abdullah
    • 1920: British warplanes bomb Abdullah’s stronghold
    • Late 1920’s: Italian occupation extends
    • 1940: Italy declares war on The UK, fighting breaks out on Somali grounds
    • 1948: Britain turns over many of their territories to Ethiopia
  • 4. Freedom from Italian/British Rule
    • 1947 Peace Treaty: Italian Somaliland is under a ten year international trusteeship system with Italy as the authority. Britain sets up foundational institutions.
    • 1960: British Somaliland and Italian Somaliland gain independence and join to form the Somali Republic
  • 5.
    • 1961: first constitution
      • Capital in southern (former Italian) Somalia
      • Most government positions of southern Somalis
    • 1967: Mohamed Ibrahim Egal reconciles with Ethiopia (traditional enemy since 16th century)
    • 1969: bloodless coup installs Mohamed Siad Barre as president (ends party based constitutional democracy in Somalia)
  • 6.
    • 1977: Somalia invades Ethiopia to gain back Ogaden.
      • Ethiopia forms alliance with Soviet Union
      • Somalia is defeated and retreats
    • Late 1970’s: Somalia forms alliance with the US
    • 1982-1988: US viewed Somalia as a partner in defense in the Cold War
    • 1980’s: discontent with the Barre regime, Civil War breaks out
    • 1988: Barre bombs northern Somalia killing 10,000 civilians
    • 1991: Barre is out of power, central gov. collapses. US enters along with UN.
  • 7. Somalia left with...
    • Hundreds of thousands of refugees
    • Small factions fighting for control of the national territory
    • Insurgent forces controlling most of Somalia
      • Hampering the ability for the newly formed federal government to start with rebuilding and aid.
  • 8. The Switch: Somalia to the UK
  • 9. Somalia Today
    • Somali as an ethnic group is over 90% of population (others include Bantu and Arab)
    • 99% are Muslim
    • 37.8% of population can read and write
    • 85% are nomadic pastoralists or farmers, 15-20% urban.
    • National Language of Somali, but speak Arabic, English, and Italian extensively
  • 10. The UK Today
    • Major ethnic groups: British, Irish, West Indian, South Asian
    • Religion: Anglican, Roman Catholic, Presbyterian, Muslim
    • English Language (some Welsh and Irish/Scottish Gaelic)
    • 99% literacy rate--universal public education ages 5-16
    • Predominately urban and suburban
    • 75,000 Somali refugees living there today
  • 11. “ Collective rights will only work if a group has the freedom to have a bond with their own culture” --Will Kimlika
  • 12. Second Generation Identity
    • *1/3 of applicants for asylum in the UK are under 20 years old
    • Tug of war with parent’s idea of Somali identity and their identity as British citizens
    • More open to change in ideas than adults
    • If not integrated, they face social harms that can further contribute to process of marginalization (ie: crime and drugs)
  • 13. Stability in the UK
    • Britain is seen as a ‘place of freedom to be whoever you are’
    • Seen as a ‘safe’ place
    • With the Labour Party’s Election Victory of 1997, the UK has become more:
      • Cosmopolitan, Multi-cultural and tolerant
  • 14. The Local Community
    • Feel secure in their local community without necessarily self-identifying with the nation.
      • Able to reproduce a community of practice with shared values, networks, and practices
      • Sense of stake in the future of the UK
      • Lack of narrow prescriptions in ‘Britishness’
  • 15. Language and Education
    • Speaking Somali at home is an important way of ensuring the children retain their roots and develop Somali identity--Parents not sufficient in English
    • Many come to the UK uneducated
    • Taught to help one another (concept of the civil war)
    • Somali Community Homework Clubs:
      • English, math, science, and Quaranic education
  • 16. Religion as their Identity
    • Identities must be authorized by the owner
      • Lack of prescribed identities allows Somali integration into the UK, while keeping something of their own (Muslim tradition)
    • Emotional investments in Muslim tradition in the face of their displacement
  • 17. Denmark
    • ‘ Over’ integration of the Somali population
      • Schools designed to integrate refugees into Danish Culture
      • No strong Somali community, everyone dispersed into minority, poor ‘ethnic’ neighborhoods
      • Over emphasis of ‘difference’ as bad, feeling of discrimination as the ‘out group’
  • 18. Brazil
    • Brought in European immigrants to ‘whiten’ the country
    • Myth that everyone is mixed
      • State inaction and denial of informal discrimination
      • Group stratification was an individuals fault, not enough group representation
      • Ignoring of customs and traditions, embracing only the nationalistic norms