Elusive Jannah: The Somali Diaspora and a Borderless Muslim Identity

I am applying for funds to assist with preparing an index and to offset some of the production costs of my book, "Elusive Jannah: The Somali Diaspora and a Borderless Muslim Identity," forthcoming from University of Minnesota Press, 2015. (The book is under full contract and has gone through all revisions). "Elusive Jannah" focuses on the myriad intersecting factorsラlocal and global, factual and fictional, political and historicalラthat shape Somali migration experiences in consequential ways. Comparing Somali settlement in the United Arab Emirates, a relatively closed Muslim nation where citizens are a minority within a large South Asian population of labor migrants, with South Africa, a nation where apartheid's racial hierarchies determined immigration policies until very recently, with the United States, a traditional nation of immigrants with its own racial, socio-economic and political distinctions, sheds light on the significance of immigration policies in shaping migrant experiences. The analysis underscores the convergence of the local and global that prods so many people to move across borders in search of physical, economic, cultural, and spiritual wellbeing. Migrants' religious, social, and political location within both their immediate environment and the broader society all remain key to the process of migrants' integration or exclusion, of whether they are able to realize their aspirations for an earthly Eden (jannah). Each of the three case studies, in various permutations, shows how Somalis' search for flexible citizenship and physical and emotional security leads to unanticipated conditions that confound their expectations.

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