Lidwien Kapteijns is author of Clan Cleansing in Somalia: The Ruinous Legacy of 1991 (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012). She is the Kendall/Hodder Professor of History at Wellesley College.
When the Somali dictator Mohamed Siad Barre (1969-1991) was expelled from Mogadishu in January 1991, the violence unleashed by competing political and military leaders was catastrophic, leading to the exodus of hundreds of thousands Somalis and the collapse and destruction of all state institutions. A great deal of this violence was large-scale clan-based violence against civilians, suffered and perpetrated in the name of particular clan identities. For a variety of reasons, the history of this clan cleansing has largely been ignored, concealed, and denied. In this new book, Kapteijns offers a complex and multilayered history of the violence triggered in 1991. Seeking to understand what caused, enabled, and motivated clan violence and what turned ordinary civilians into perpetrators of terror warfare and murder, Kapteijns assembles a range of information, from poetry and personal testimony to historical archives and theoretical work on memory, moral repair, and representation.