Conflict in Somalia: Conceptualizing al-Shabaab

Morten Skov Bendtsen, Toke Andersson Dalsgaard Nielsen, Rasmus Beck Noerbjerg Hansen & Klaus Stig Kristensen

Studenteropgave: Semesterprojekt


This project is based on a motivation for exploring al-Shabaab. The research question is: how can al-Shabaab be understood in the perspectives of warlordism and state building in a post conflict area. The structure of the project is made up of a theoretical chapter outlining the two theories; an Introduction to the research field, including a history of Somalia and an introduction to al-Shabaab; an analysis of empirical data from various sources of different origin and point of view, seen through the framework of the two theories; and a discussion of al-Shabaab divided into three main themes: state building in Somalia, negotiation vs. combat, and terrorism. The aim of the project is to reach an understanding more nuanced than the common understanding of al-Shabaab. By analyzing al-Shabaab through two theories that are very different but both have aspects of them relatable to al-Shabaab, and using empirical data from several sources vastly different in their point of departure and point of view as well, the complexities of al-Shabaab is contextualized. The sources are analyzed not just in the context of the two theories but also using analytical tools as presented in source criticism; a critical approach to an analysis of empirical data. Furthermore, the discussion brings a new set of perspectives to al-Shabaab, and revolves around the two general understandings of al-Shabaab, and the general possibilities and implications for al-Shabaab’s future in the context of Somalia. The discussion’s aim is to explore the understanding of al-Shabaab gained from the analysis, and see in what way it can be understood through the further perspectives of the discussion. The last part of the project is a conclusion of the findings from the analysis and the discussion.

UddannelserKultur- og Sprogmødestudier, (Bachelor/kandidatuddannelse) Bachelor el. kandidat
Udgivelsesdato14 jun. 2012


  • Al-Shabaab
  • Somalia