Though often associated with foreigners and refugees, many Somalis have lived in Kenya for generations, in many cases since long before the founding of the country. Despite their long residency, foreign and state officials and Kenyan citizens often perceive the Somali population to be a dangerous and alien presence in the country, and charges of civil and human rights abuses have mounted against them in recent years.
In We Do Not Have Borders, Keren Weitzberg examines the historical factors that led to this state of affairs. In the process, she challenges many of the most fundamental analytical categories, such as “tribe,” “race,” and “nation,” that have traditionally shaped African historiography. Her interest in the ways in which Somali representations of the past and the present inform one another places her research at the intersection of the disciplines of history, political science, and anthropology.
Given tragic events in Kenya and the controversy surrounding al-Shabaab, We Do Not Have Borders has enormous historical and contemporary significance, and provides unique inroads into debates over globalization, African sovereignty, the resurgence of religion, and the multiple meanings of being African.
"At a time when Kenyan politics is ever more xenophobic, when thousands of Somalis are being rounded up, incarcerated, and screened as enemies of the state, this book could not be more timely. It is meaningful for all interested in the historical configuration of African politics, and should be read widely by historians, political scientists, and policymakers.”
"This eye for the wider picture is a major strength of this book. However, perhaps its greatest strength is in the quality and sensitivity of its historiography. It is based on in-depth archival and oral historical research, also making excellent use of Somali poetry as a source. Indeed, Weitzberg provides a model of historical research, one that situates itself within cutting edge historiographical thinking. More than this, Weitzberg brings out the voices of her interlocutors with dignity, treating them seriously as political thinkers in their own right who are engaged in rethinking what it means to belong in the twenty-first century."