Words, Worlds, and Wishes: The Aesthetics of Somali Kinship

Peer Reviewed

Essay Excerpt

In this article I shall thread my way along a path parallel to Tyler's and seek to think freely of a particular genre of speech-kinship terms. The subject is admittedly parochial and I cannot boast as ingenious credentials as can Tyler; this article is at best anarchist semiology, at worst late modernism. Yet, my approach derives from Tyler's denial of dualism in signification, and my primary aim is to show that rethinking some received wisdom concerning words and their meanings can have a relevance for some perennial anthropological problems. (Helander, 114)

About the Author

Bernhard Helander was an anthropologist and well known Scholar on Somalia. He published on Somali pastoralism, politics and power, poverty, Somali medicine, kinship, Somali sociability and modes of communication, as well as contemporary political processes, welfare, development and peace in Somalia. He started his research in Somalia in 1982 and rose to become one of the world's major experts on Somali culture and society. He served in the early 1990s in the UN think tank headed by ambassador Mohamed Sahnoun. He edited the Somalia News Update, an Internet newsletter, which in the 1990s was very influential in disseminating knowledge and forming opinion on current affairs in Somali. During these years he also served in the UN think tank on Somalia. Before his death, Helander was a lecturer in cultural anthropology at Uppsala University.

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