Milk and Peace, Drought and War

Somali Culture, Society and Politics

Edited by Part of the Somali Society, History and Politics series
June 2010 9781849040440 416pp
Out of print
June 2010 9781849040457 416pp


This volume offers a comprehensive overview of scholarship on Somalia and Somali land, one that transcends the usual boundaries and presents readers with a timely, incisive and compelling introduction to Somali culture, history and politics. Topics covered include: history, including the impact of the two colonial powers (Britain and Italy); the Somali poetic heritage and its relation to politics; the variations within Somali culture between northern/pastoral and southern/agro-pastoral populations; the question of the significance of clanship, including its relation to livestock trading networks, and the Somali ‘total genealogy’ and its origin; the political future since the breakdown of the centralised state; and, the role of the Somali Diaspora. There are chapters on the ‘spirit possession cults’, and on the Somali language, names and kinship terms. An introduction describes I.M. Lewis’ career and discusses the legacy of over fifty years of his scholarship, assessing its impact on Somali society’s view of itself and that of the wider academic and policy communities.


‘The list of contributors to this volume reads like a Who’s Who in Somali Studies.’ — Professor Gunther Schlee, Director Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology Halle/Saale, Germany

‘An excellent introductory text to Somalis and the Somali-speaking lands.’ — International Affairs

Milk and Peace, Drought and War is an extremely well-rounded book, one that explores not only the issues of greatest relevance to those of us who are trying to understand contemporary politics within the country, but also cultural issues such as poetry that are deeply embedded within Somali society and no less fascinating to read about … this collection is a highly-recommended academic contribution.’ – Daveed Gartenstein, ASMEA

‘All of these essays challenge the idea of Somalian and Somali homogeneity … In their own voice and spirit, the contributors have paid a most sincere homage to Lewis’ fundamental work. This is an essential book for anyone interested in Somalia, its people and its language, to be read and reread.’ – Cahiers d’Études africaines


Markus V. Hoehne is a PhD candidate at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology in Halle/Saale, Germany. His research focuses on identity and conflict in northern Somalia (Somaliland and Puntland) where he conducted twenty two months of field research in 2002, 2003-2004, and 2008-2009. He is also part of a research project funded by the European Union on 'Diasporas for Peace' (DIASPEACE). His publications include a book entitled Somalia zwischen Krieg und Frieden. Strategien der friedlichen Konfliktaustragung auf internationaler und lokaler Ebene (Hamburg, 2002), a co-edited volume on Borders in the Horn of Africa (with James Currey, 2010), and several peer reviewed journal articles and book chapters.

Virginia Luling studied at Oxford and London and took her PhD in Social Anthropology in 1972. Her field research was done in Afgooye, Somalia. Her publications include Somali Sultanate; the Geledi City State over 150 years (2002) and articles including 'Some Possession Cults in Southern Somalia' (1991), 'The Law then was not this Law' (1996); 'Past and Present in Improvised Verse at a South Somali Festival' (1996), 'Come Back Somalia? Questioning a Collapsed State' (1997), and 'Genealogy as Theory, Genealogy as Tool: Aspects of Somali Clanship' (2006). From 1983 to 2004 she worked for the human rights organisation Survival International. She is Secretary of the Anglo-Somali Society and is working on a history of the Begedi clan.

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