Somalia the Orient? : A Discourse Analysis of European Construction of Somali Identity

University essay from Malmö universitet/Institutionen för globala politiska studier (GPS)

Abstract: This thesis focus on European construction of Somali identity. Using a discourse analysis in combination with Edward Said’s concept of Orientalism, this study examines the three main European Council Documents that set the foundation for the EU’s military and political intervention in the Horn of Africa in general, and Somalia specifically. The analysis investigates how Somalia is being imagined within these documents and how this European identity construction can be understood as an Orientalist discourse. The outcome of the analysis show that the construction of Somalia within this limited scope, the European discourse can indeed be read as an Orientalist discourse. In the analyzed documents Somalia is generally constructed as a dangerous, possibly threatening physical entity, which is juxtaposed to the EU which is identified as a realm of peace and compliance to universal norms and values. Hence, this discourse is implying a certain hierarchy in which Europe has a more privileged position than Somalia. Furthermore, the analysis concludes that the European response can be also read as based on a liberal peace discourse which carries the risk to perpetuate Orientalist stereotyping and the construction of Orientalist identities.

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