Return Migration and Nation Building in Africa: Reframing the Somali Diaspora, 1st Edition (e-Book) book cover

Return Migration and Nation Building in Africa

Reframing the Somali Diaspora, 1st Edition

By Adele Galipo


178 pages | 8 B/W Illus.

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pub: 2018-11-08
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Return migration has received growing levels of attention in both academic and policy circles in recent years, as the African diaspora's role in contributing to the development of their country of origin has become apparent. However, little is known about the lived experiences of those who come back, and even less about the ways in which their return shapes socio-political dynamics on the ground. This book aims to unpack the complexities of migrant transnational experiences as situated in global political and economic processes.

In particular, the book takes the case of the return of skilled and educated Somalis from Western Europe and North America, in an attempt to recast the idea of diaspora return and transnational ethnography in a more political light, and to show how these returnees are both subject to and generative of important political conditions that are transforming Somaliland society. Overall, the book captures the complexities of the migrant's position, showing that "return" is rarely permanent, and that success comes from perpetuating the transnational stance.

This book will appeal to scholars of migration, diaspora, development and African studies, as well as to those interested in the Somali case specifically, the third biggest community of refugees in the world.


"Galipo’s book is theoretically ambitious and ethnographically well-founded. The author questions the concept of return and critically engages transnationalism, looking into power differences, the role of locales and the issue of nation-building. This book is inspiring way beyond the specific context of Somaliland and advances our thinking about current dynamics of migration."Markus Virgil Hoehne, University of Leipzig, Germany

"This book carefully explores how refugees who return to Somaliland are reshaping the national social, economic and political arena. The elegance of the study lies in the stories of people and the descriptions of fluid interactions at cultural festivals or in a hotel in Hargeysa. The reader is brought away from ready-made categories and invited to enter into all the nuances of everyday life."Alessandro Monsutti, Professor, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva and Author of War and Migration (Routledge) and Homo itinerans (PUF)

"By deftly constructing an ethnography of return, Adele Galipo transcends the bland migration-development nexus and reinvigorates the transnationalism and diaspora discourse by showing how return plays into challenges of globalisation, identity and transnational power."Nicholas Van Hear, Deputy Director, Centre on Migration, Policy and Society (COMPAS), University of Oxford, UK

"Responding to war and state collapse, Somali societies have since the early 1990s revealed future global scenarios creatively shaping remittance economies supported by technological innovation, internationalized trading networks, large-scale mobility and diasporas. Finely combining theoretical analyses and ethnographic details, Adele Galipo adds a new segment to this picture, refreshing discussions on returnees and local development."Luca Ciabarri, Assistant Professor, University of Milan, Italy

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. A man who has not travelled has no eyes: the travel of history, histories of travel

3. The (trans)local organisation of power

4. You will never get rid of what you were born with: returning qurbajoog

5. Making culture, building a nation: Somali cultural festivals as laboratories of national-cultural identity

6. Drinking tea at the Maan-soor Hotel, Hargeysa

7. Toward trans-transnationalism

About the Author

Adele Galipo is Honorary Research Associate at UCL Department of Social Science. She holds a PhD in anthropology and sociology of development from the Graduate Institute in Geneva and is a former Swiss National Science Foundation fellow and visiting academic at the Centre on Migration, Policy and Society (COMPAS), University of Oxford. Her research interests include return migration, transnationalism, diasporas and refugees, gender, humanitarian action and international development.

About the Series

Routledge Studies in Development, Mobilities and Migration

This series is dedicated to the growing and important area of mobilities and migration, particularly through the lens of international development. It promotes innovative and interdisciplinary research targeted at a global readership. The series welcomes submissions from established and junior authors on cutting-edge and high-level research on key topics that feature in global news and public debate.

These include the so called European migration crisis; famine in the Horn of Africa; riots; environmental migration; development-induced displacement and resettlement; livelihood transformations; people-trafficking; health and infectious diseases; employment; South-South migration; population growth; children’s wellbeing; marriage and family; food security; the global financial crisis; drugs wars; and other contemporary crisis.

To submit proposals, please contact the Editor, Helena Hurd (

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Emigration & Immigration
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Developing Countries