'New Media', Performative Violence and State Reconstruction in Mogadishu

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Abstract

Since 2012, Mogadishu has been the site of both unprecedented optimism around the re-emergence of the Somali state, as well as persistent violence perpetrated by the Islamist militants of Harakat Al Shabaab Al Mujahidiin (Al Shabaab). In attacking hotels and restaurants, as well as other sites broadly associated with the state, Al Shabaab has prosecuted a strategy intended to foment the ungovernability of the city, undermine the nascent Federal Government of Somalia‟s claims to authority, and denounce the alleged “foreign” capture of the re-emerging state. Based on discursive analysis of local political commentary, and fieldwork in Mogadishu, this article examines media contestation between a re-emerging state and an armed opposition in a context of prolonged political fragmentation. The article argues that not only does the highly decentralized and transnational modern media environment facilitate a dynamic and dialogic exchange of propaganda between the state and an armed opposition but, furthermore, the technological context of this discursive contestation has practical implications for the ways in which counter-terrorism and state reconstruction are undertaken by political and military actors on the ground.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)392–414
JournalAFRICAN AFFAIRS
Volume117
Issue number468
Early online date27 Apr 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2018

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