Lee Cassanelli


Associate Professor



Lee Cassanelli teaches African history, oral history, and comparative world history. His research interests focus on the Horn of Africa (Ethiopia and Somalia) from the 18th to the 20th century. He has recently co-edited a book with an anthropologist on some of the social and economic forces behind the recent Somali civil war (Catherine Besteman and Lee V. Cassanelli, The Struggle for Land in Southern Somalia: The War Behind the War, Westview Press, 1996.) He has also written 'Hosts and Guests': A Historical Interpretation of land conflicts in Southern and Central Somalia (2015); "Dark Days in Somalia.", Africa Review of Books, vol.10, no.2 CODESRIA (2014); Struggle for Land in Southern Somalia: The War Behind the War. Edited with Catherine Besteman. London: Haan Associates Publishing (2004).

He is currently working on two chapters of a new book on social and cultural transformations in Somalia since 1890: one deals with the role of historical and contemporary diasporas in shaping Somali ideas about clan, state, and nationhood; the other examines the evolution of Somali political culture as expressed in oral poetic commentary and written political biographies. He has also been working on the role of "history and memory" in Somali refugee communities.