Dr Lee V. Cassanelli is talking about the formation of the Congress that came to be known as SSIA (Somali Studies International Association). Since the formation of the Association in 1979 and until now it has seen its fair share of conflicts and tackled many issues. Lee Cassanelli talks to us and tells us, as a founding member, what it was that they had achieved over the last three decades. Interviewed on behalf of Somali-Studies.com by Mohammed Abdullahi Artan.
Lee Cassanelli teaches African history, oral history, and comparative world history at University of Pennsylvania. His research interests focus on the Horn of Africa (Ethiopia and Somalia) from the 18th to the 20th century. He has recently co-edited a book with an anthropologist on some of the social and economic forces behind the recent Somali civil war (Catherine Besteman and Lee V. Cassanelli, The Struggle for Land in Southern Somalia: The War Behind the War, Westview Press, 1996.)
He is currently working on two chapters of a new book on social and cultural transformations in Somalia since 1890: one deals with the role of historical and contemporary diaspora in shaping Somali ideas about clan, state, and nationhood; the other examines the evolution of Somali political culture as expressed in oral poetic commentary and written political biographies. He has also been working on the role of “history and memory” in Somali refugee communities.