Accepted Paper:

Ethnography of recovery: forensic intervention and its aftermath in Somaliland  

Author:

Markus Hoehne (University of Leipzig)

Paper short abstract:

The paper outlines the intervention conducted by a Peruvian NGO specialized on forensic anthropology in Somaliland. The forensic work in Somaliland is challenged not only by infrastructural problems, but also by the fact that epistemologically and politically, many misunderstandings surround it.

Paper long abstract:

In contrast to the mainstream policy position, no or at least less intervention after crisis was much more effective than (more) intervention in Somaliland. It recovered because, not despite, the lack of external intervention and crisis support. Being ignored by the international community in the 1990s, people in the northwest of failing Somalia concentrated on rebuilding peace and political order according to local traditions and capacities. However, once Somaliland had proven to be "the better Somalia", many international organizations established themselves there. For the organization, being in Somaliland was the closest one would want to get to the real crisis. Consequently, things began to change in Somaliland. In its ethnographic part, the paper outlines the intervention by a Peruvian NGO specialized in forensic anthropology. The NGO concentrates on the exhumation of mass-graves dating from the 1980s, the time of the military dictatorship. These forensic interventions happen sequentially since 2012. For a month or two every year, the experts are on the ground; local students are partly integrated. A local institution called the office for the investigation of war crimes is assisting and supposed to carry on the work in the absence of the Peruvian NGO throughout the year. However, my research shows that the forensic work in Somaliland is challenged not only by infrastructural problems, but also by the fact that epistemologically and politically, many misunderstandings surround it.

Panel P107
After the Crisis? Ethnographies of Post-Crisis Situations in Africa