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A Refugee Odyssey: A story of globalization and Somali Bantu refugees

220 Eggers Hall

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Somalia's civil war, which began in 1990, produced a flood of refugees, many of whom have resettled in the U.S. This paper (and its accompanying photographs) traces the fate of one family's story to show how global events have shaped their choices and opportunities for four generations, from Ethiopia to Lewiston, Maine. Even though refugees are a product of global politics, their future is constrained by nationalist categories and discourses. Catherine Besteman is Professor of Anthropology at Colby College. She is the author or editor of 6 books, including Transforming Cape Town (California), Unraveling Somalia (Penn), and Why America's Top Pundits are Wrong (California, coedited with Hugh Gusterson). Her newest volume, The Insecure American(California, coedited with Hugh Gusterson) will be published this month. She studies Somali politics, Somali Bantu refugee experience in Maine, and post apartheid cultural transformation and activism in Cape Town.  

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Exterior of Maxwell in black and white when there was no Eggers building

We’re Turning 100!

To mark our centennial in the fall of 2024, the Maxwell School will hold special events and engagement opportunities to celebrate the many ways—across disciplines and borders—our community ever strives to, as the Oath says, “transmit this city not only not less, but greater, better and more beautiful than it was transmitted to us.”

Throughout the year leading up to the centennial, engagement opportunities will be held for our diverse, highly accomplished community that now boasts more than 38,500 alumni across the globe.