A cultural heritage for national liberation? The Soviet-Somali historical expedition, Soviet African studies, and the Cold War in the Horn of Africa

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Abstract

This paper discusses the conception, execution, and outcomes of the first Soviet-Somali his-torical expedition, in 1971. In due course, the Soviet-Somali Expedition set out to create a “usable past” for Somali nationalism, rooted in the history of Mohammad Abdullah Hassan, a religious and military leader who had fought against the British in Somaliland between 1900 and 1920. The paper investigates how Soviet ideas about the preservation of historical heritage were grounded in Central Asian modes of practice and how these became internal-ised by Soviet Africanists in their attempts to help reinforce foundational myths in newly independent African states. The paper argues that the Soviet model for the preservation of cultural heritage, as envisioned by Soviet Africanists, aimed to reinforce Siad’s national project for Somalia. Their efforts were ultimately unsuccessful, however, because of Cold War constraints and misunderstandings of local realities.
LanguageEnglish
Number of pages23
JournalInternational Journal of Heritage Studies
Early online date23 Sep 2019
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 23 Sep 2019

Fingerprint

Cold War
cultural heritage
liberation
cold war
nationalism
history
Somalia
Africa
Horn of Africa
Expedition
African Studies
Africanist
Somaliland
Liberation
Cultural Heritage
Cultural heritage
myth
Military
leader
project

Keywords

  • Soviet Union
  • Africa
  • Somalia
  • cold war
  • Somali cultural heritage
  • UNESCO

Cite this

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