Accepted Paper:

Waiting for peace in Somalia or why it is sometimes better if nothing happens  


Tabea Scharrer (Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology)

Paper short abstract:

Focusing on the situation of Somali refugees in Kenya different modes of waiting will be explored. In particular it will be asked what difference it makes if waiting is not aimed at something (waiting for) but arises from the in-ability of action.

Paper long abstract:

When the Kenyan Army invaded Southern Somalia in October 2011 the reaction of Somali refugees in Kenya was rather composed. On the one hand the events in 2011 inspired hope for peace in Somalia, something many refugees had given up already for a long time. The question if it is worth to wait for the right time to go back or to move on in a different direction became valid again. On the other hand the awkward and insecure situation of refugees inside Kenya leave many migrants in a position of inactivity or indiscernible activity, no matter if they are staying in the refugee camps or are living, often illegally, in the cities. However for people who have experienced war this time of apparent inactivity is not necessarily a waiting period that needs to be filled, as the very existence can be an event in itself. That leads to the question who is defining what is eventful and what is ordinary, what can be seen as actively taking part in change and what is mere idleness. Last but not least it will be asked how to write about the uneventful or even boredom. While the empirical material presented will be concerned with an anthropology of waiting, theoretical questions will be asked in how far waiting, the uneventful and the ordinary can be discussed together or whether they deal with different questions altogether.

Panel W095
Waiting for Godot & Co: modes and moods of the uneventful