Keren Weitzberg

Keren Weitzberg teaches at UCL. We Do Not Have Borders: Greater Somalia and the Predicaments of Belonging in Kenya was published in 2017. Research for her piece was funded by the British Academy/Leverhulme Trust, the Fulbright US Scholar Program, Privacy International and the American Council of Learned Societies.

From The Blog
14 September 2020

Hassan (not his real name) was born in the Kenyan town of Mandera, on the country’s borders with Somalia and Ethiopia, and grew up with relatives who had escaped the Somali civil war in the early 1990s. When his aunt, who fled Mogadishu, applied for refugee resettlement through the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, she listed Hassan as one of her sons – a description which, if understood outside the confines of biological kinship, accurately reflected their relationship.

They were among the lucky few to pass through the competitive and labyrinthine resettlement process for Somalis and, in 2005, Hassan – by then a young adult – was relocated to Minnesota. It would be several years before US Citizenship and Immigration Services introduced DNA tests to assess the veracity of East African refugee petitions. The adoption of genetic testing by Denmark, France and the US, among others, has narrowed the ways in which family relationships can be defined, while giving the resettlement process the air of an impartial audit culture.

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