Forced migrations, both now and in the past, imply a process of constructing and modifying accounts of past events, which become codified in memories. Memories are constructed to negotiate and reshape identity in the country of arrival. A number of factors interact in this process, some aspects are silenced and others are emphasised, and new events may be invented. One of the arguments I make elsewhere is that, along the way, memories of the past, especially if gathered and codified through writing, may lose meanings that are unknown to the people who codify them. Yet, in times of forced migrations certain aspects of the memories re-emerge from the background and gain new relevance. This was the case, for instance, with matriliny and matrilineal names, which were not recognised or emphasised by those who codified certain oral historic traditions of migrations at specific historical times in written form in Somalia. Yet, in the process of seeking integration in Tanzania after the forced migration caused by the 1992 war in Somalia, these aspects regained their importance in the Somali Zigula memories and helped to achieve inclusion in the country of migration. Zigula memories of the past have undergone some changes. The way these changes have occurred is not unique and the process of modelling memories of the past tailored on idioms of kinship follows specific patterns that are part of a specific culture of mobility. Based on fieldwork carried out with refugees forced to migrate from southern Somalia to Tanzania in the early 90s, I will show how their collective memories of past events took on newly gendered features, when circumstances changed and the main spoken language progressively shifted from kizigula to kiswahili.

The shifting of memories and forced migrations: the Somali Zigula migration to Tanzania

francesca declich
2018-01-01

Abstract

Forced migrations, both now and in the past, imply a process of constructing and modifying accounts of past events, which become codified in memories. Memories are constructed to negotiate and reshape identity in the country of arrival. A number of factors interact in this process, some aspects are silenced and others are emphasised, and new events may be invented. One of the arguments I make elsewhere is that, along the way, memories of the past, especially if gathered and codified through writing, may lose meanings that are unknown to the people who codify them. Yet, in times of forced migrations certain aspects of the memories re-emerge from the background and gain new relevance. This was the case, for instance, with matriliny and matrilineal names, which were not recognised or emphasised by those who codified certain oral historic traditions of migrations at specific historical times in written form in Somalia. Yet, in the process of seeking integration in Tanzania after the forced migration caused by the 1992 war in Somalia, these aspects regained their importance in the Somali Zigula memories and helped to achieve inclusion in the country of migration. Zigula memories of the past have undergone some changes. The way these changes have occurred is not unique and the process of modelling memories of the past tailored on idioms of kinship follows specific patterns that are part of a specific culture of mobility. Based on fieldwork carried out with refugees forced to migrate from southern Somalia to Tanzania in the early 90s, I will show how their collective memories of past events took on newly gendered features, when circumstances changed and the main spoken language progressively shifted from kizigula to kiswahili.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11576/2655208
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