Singing Love in(to) Somaliland: Love Songs, 'Heritage Preservation' and the Shaping of Post-War Publics

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


In August 2014, Hiddo Dhawr – a cultural restaurant and “tourism village” – opened its doors in Hargeysa, becoming the first live music venue to operate in Somaliland since the war. In this chapter I explore how Hiddo Dhawr, and particularly the live performance of old love songs, are implicated in the shaping of post-war publics in contemporary Somaliland. Drawing on ethnographic data, I seek to unravel how Hiddo Dhawr’s mission of “heritage preservation”, twinned with its near exclusive focus on love songs, work to create space for the performance of music in contested terrain, providing audiences with the resources to reflect on the past, imagine different futures, and enact different ways of being in the present. I suggest that in so doing, Hiddo Dhawr’s audiences constitute a kind of alternative public, one where a “traditional” Somali identity is celebrated while audiences are freed to push the limits of everyday social conventions.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMusic and Dance Research in Eastern Africa
Subtitle of host publicationCurrent Research in Humanities and Social Sciences
PublisherTwaweza Communications and IFRA
Number of pages90
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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