Gateways and gatekeepers: Social media and the (re)defining of somali identity in kenya's security operations

Gianluca Iazzolino, Nicole Stremlau

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


The role of social media in advancing narratives that reproduce power relationships in a predominantly Somali neighbourhood of Nairobi is the topic of this chapter. With a focus on the security operations of the Kenyan government, particularly Usalama Watch, in relation to terrorism concerns, we argue that the narratives about the conflict have largely been framed on two levels, both of which have excluded significant minority groups. This reinforced existing inequalities in the Somali social structure. The conflict narratives were framed first by the government and second by powerful interests within the Somali community, both offering similar homogeneous perspectives that reinforced certain notions of Somali identity. Despite the important role of social media in the Somali community during security actions such as Operation Usalama Watch, minority voices remained marginalised.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMediating Xenophobia in Africa
Subtitle of host publicationUnpacking Discourses of Migration, Belonging and Othering
EditorsDumisani Moyo, Shepherd Mpofu
PublisherSpringer Nature
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9783030612368
ISBN (Print)9783030612351
Publication statusPublished - 24 Nov 2020


  • identity
  • Kenya
  • marginalisation
  • Operation Usalama Watch
  • social media
  • Somali-Kenyans
  • Somalia
  • terrorism
  • xenophobic violence


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