Copenhagen-Somali Seminar: Practicing Art As Politics

The 1st Copenhagen-Somali Seminar 2013 on the potential of Somali culture in current globalisation.

Keynote speakers

  • Professor Maxamed Ibrahim Warsame Hadraawi (The Centre of Humanities, University of Burao)
  • Professor Abdirahman Ahmed Hussein (Academy for Peace & Development, Somaliland)
  • Dr. Georgi Kapchits (Institute of Asian and African Studies of Moscow State University)
  • Dr. Mohamed Dahir Afrax (Somali PEN)
  • Lecturer Ladan Affi (University of Djibouti)


"Practicing Art as Politics" is the first activity of the new forum The Copenhagen-Somali Seminar. It presents leading Somali artist and academics at The University of Copenhagen in a debate on the potential of the Somali experience in the past 30 years of how to make culture a focus in processes of globalization.

The Somali culture has too often been overshadowed by problematic events in the Horn of Africa and the crisis of Somalia. However, behind these media capturing issues there is another reality. The fact that the Somali community presents an inroad to understanding what it means to be a citizen of a world where more and more take the global as a preferred context for life and meaning.

The energy of the postcolonial phase of Somalia in the 1960s has in the past 30 years changed into a transformative experience re-defining life from the Persian Gulf over the Horn of Africa to North America. Further spurred by successes such as The Republic of Somaliland, one of the stable democracies in Africa today.

In this context, Somalis have proven that the other side of crisis can be a global and local cultural formation of interest to the current world.


Research has pointed to the specific creativity related to the postcolonial experience, arguing for instance that migration and diasporic experiences influence and transform aesthetic practices. Not only because diasporas and migrants bring their cultures and heritages to other places, but because they point to potentials for addressing the political from positions in between culture related to such heritages and the novel contexts of diaspora life.

The potential of art for deliberately reflecting on and changing politics is an integral part of the modern art experience, for instance in the modern avant-garde. In recent decades, this longstanding liaison between art, critique and politics has expanded into a very influential post-colonial art scene. Here aesthetics, ideas, and experiences related to issues such as migration have fed into a wider formation of culture in globalization processes.

This pertains to Somali culture as well. It can be seen as a culture of a cosmopolitical definition on the national, regional and global level. This may be further reflected upon by relating art under such conditions to recent year’s debate on for example performance led research that focus on how artistic creativity may expand into neighboring notions such as the political. The seminar presents Somali art dealing with potentials of Somali culture and politics in a cosmopolitical framework, on the back of the Somali experience.

The seminar presents statements, strategies, and viewpoints on the political from Somali artists, intellectuals and scholars.

Following upon the research debate (please see programme below), two public events will present Somali art for the Danish public (in Copenhagen & Aarhus).

Questions: Coordinator Martin el-Toukhy:; cell: +45 26 28 16 68.


The conference is free.


The Copenhagen-Somali Seminar.


8:30-9:00  Arrival, registration, coffee

9:00-9:10  Welcome - Faculty of Humanities, University of Copenhagen

9:10-9:30  Welcome - Osman Abdulkadir Farah (Aalborg University); Mahad Farah Aden (National Bank of Denmark); Anders Michelsen (University of Copenhagen)

9:30-10:30  Maxamed Ibrahim Warsame Hadraawi (The Centre of Humanities, University of Burao)

10:30-11:30  George Kapchitz (Institute of Asian and African Studies of Moscow State University)

11:30-12:00  Questions and debate (Chair, Osman Abdulkadir Farah (Aalborg University))

12:00-13:00  Lunch

13:00-13:45  Abirahman Ahmed Hussein (Academy for Peace & Development, Somaliland)

13:45-14:30  Ladan Affi (University of Djibouti)

14:30-15:15  Mohamed Dahir Afrax (Somali PEN)

15:15-16:00  Questions and debate (Chair, Anders Michelsen (University of Copenhagen))

16:00-16:.30  Break/Coffee

16:30-17:00  Presentation of publication project “Practicing art as politics: on the potential of Somali culture in current globalization” - Osman Abdulkadir Farah (Aalborg University)

17:00-18:00  Concluding panel with all key talkers – Moderators: Osman Abdulkadir Farah and Anders Michelsen