Catherine Besteman

Fellow: Awarded 2012

Field of Study: Anthropology and Cultural Studies

Competition: US & Canada

I am currently working on a book project that will address the cultural and symbolic dimensions of the way refuge is imagined locally and globally by displaced Somalis and the communities to which they go in order to advance a new understanding of refugee agency from the perspective of those who move. The book engages intellectual and theoretical questions about how the imaginings and materialities of refuge impact the construction of difference as well as novel forms of connection. The book draws on six years of ethnographic work in Maine, which in turn builds on twenty years of research on violence and reconciliation in Somalia and South Africa as well as comparative research on insecurity in the U.S. My research on the shifting social identities, political subjectivities, and cultural interpretations of conflict and reconciliation has resulted in several books (including Transforming Cape Town, Unraveling Somalia, and The Insecure American), numerous articles, museum exhibitions, and a website. I am currently Professor of Anthropology at Colby College.