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Urban diasporas: the case of Somalis

Vivian Gerrand describes the diaspora of Somali migrants to different cities across the world.

Interview with Vivian Gerrand (European University Institute, Florence, Italy)

We asked Vivian the following questions:

1) To what extent do diasporas change our understanding of European cities?

2) In what ways does the local and global presence of the Somali diaspora in European cities challenge nationalism?

3) Can you give some examples of how the Somali presence in European cities has been represented culturally?

In her answer to the third question, Vivian refers to a passage in the novel Il Comandante del Fiume (The Boss of the River) by Italian Somali author Cristina Ali Farah. In it, a young Italian Somali man from Rome called Yabar reflects on his arrival in London:

“I’d been in London for a week, and I still hadn’t seen anything of the city. I could have been anywhere—England, Australia, Minnesota—but I had the impression that I was in Somalia: all the shop owners are Sikhs or Benghali but there were also call centres, Money Transfer outlets and Somali-owned restaurants, and locals too. Veiled women, children of all ages pulled along by hand or in their strollers, youngsters, elderly folk, and everyone saying hello to each other as though they were in a small town.”
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Migration and Cities

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