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Title: South London Somali ethnicities in superdiversity
Author: Wong, Stephen Mun Choong
ISNI:       0000 0004 7963 913X
Awarding Body: King's College London
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2018
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This thesis examines what the notion of Somali ethnicity might mean in a modern urban context in the UK. In a departure from essentialist notions of ethnicity, it offers an account of multiple ways in which Somali ethnicities might be understood, by focusing closely on ten people of Somali descent (three adults and seven young people) at a local community centre in South London. The thesis develops an ethnographically informed analysis, drawing on observational field notes, together with recordings of naturally occurring speech events and of informal conversational interviews. It argues that interpretations and understandings of Somali ethnicities are inextricably linked to the mundane realities of place and locale - in this case a teeming multi-ethnic, superdiverse context in South London. In conditions of superdiversity there are few certainties about the link between specific ethnic labels and the actual lives of individuals existing under these labels. In this research an account is given of the significant differences in the biographical trajectories and diaspora connections of a range of individuals who all refer to themselves as Somalis. This study shows how people claiming Somali ethnicity manage, without crisis, the tensions arising from the encounter between claimed 'traditional' practices and the demands of urban modernity and late modernity in contemporary London. These tensions arise, for example, in relation to 'traditional' discourses and practices concerning kinship, clan, religion and gender. Finally, the thesis shows how, in a specific highly multi-ethnic local environment, Somalis have to both compete and cooperatively co-exist with others living under other ethnic labels. In these circumstances their Somali ethnic solidarity can often be indirectly signalled; for instance, through their routine communicative habits and the low-key unconscious assumptions they share in their everyday interactions.
Supervisor: Harris, Roxy ; Rampton, Benjamin Michael Helyer Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available