Somali voices in Glasgow city : Who speaks? Who listens? An ethnography
Somali people have lived continuously in Glasgow since the early 2000s. Having faced the challenging circumstances of Dispersal, subsequent social inequalities, and a fast changing political climate, the population is now part of Scotland's multicultural society. However, despite this success, many Somali people do not feel that the population 'has voice' in Glasgow. As seventeen-year-old Duniya comments, 'it's like we're hidden down, under the table, we are seen, but nobody knows what we're about'. Based on two years' of ethnographic fieldwork with Somali groups and individuals in Glasgow, this thesis considers the extent to which Somali people (do not) 'have voice' in Glasgow. It finds that Somali people's communicative experiences are strongly grounded in practices and infrastructures of community, and often a combined result of 'internal' and 'external' approaches to the concept. First, considering the contribution of Somali cultures of 'voice' to Somali people's experiences in the city, I argue that, due to the particular way in which a Somali community has developed in Glasgow, people's vocal experiences have been characterised by a complex combination of cohesion and fragmentation. Second, considering the impact of 'external' approaches to 'voice' in Scotland upon Somali experiences, I identify three areas - 'community development' infrastructure, the news-media and constructions of public spaces - which place limitations on Somali people's belonging, citizenship and 'voice' in Scotland. Moreover, I suggest, the impact of these 'external' approaches to 'voice' on 'internal' vocal practices serve only to compound existing communicative inequalities. In the context of the current political climate, in which concern for people's citizenship, belonging and voices is particularly heightened, I echo Somali people's calls for increased dialogue between communities to consider the communicative inequalities that have so far been unaddressed.