Photo: Martin Tegnander / PRIO

Ebba Tellander defended her PhD successfully on 20 Septeber 2022 at the Erasmus Univeristy Rotterdam. The title of her thesis is: The Wind That Blows Before the Rain: Resistance against oppression in Northern Somalia in the 1980son 20 September 2022.

Congratulations from all at PRIO! 


​The dissertation examines collective action at transformative moments in Somalia's and Somaliand's recent history. It has a specific focus towards the day-to-day acts of ordinary people when they challenge injustices and exclusion in oppressive settings during and after war. Tellander has focused on a case of professionals, mainly doctors and teachers,  who restored a hospital as resistance. They were arrested and faced death sentences. At their trial, students started to protest to save their lives. These events mark the beginning of the resistance in Northern Somalia (today's Somaliland). 

"My empirical analysis shows that the UFFO proffesionals are motivated by strongly felt moral motivations [...] that enable early-risers to surmount their fear and act collectively despite risks. What are the origins of these moral motivations? One key insight of this study is the role of socialization in the professionals' youth years, and especially three themes came up. The first theme regards norms and values from their family and the wider nomadic culture such as equality, dignity and collective responsibility. The second theme of socialization regards strong national sentiments that were widespread at the time of their upbringing and contributed to a sense of national duty [...]. Third, they also grew up with critical discourses towards the political union between the north and the south, which highlighted unjust favoring of the south. These regime-critical discourses were embedded in poetry, theatre and songs at the time. My reasearch suggests that these processes of socialization seem to have created a potential for collective actions among their age-group.  In the early 1980's they experienced a moral shock that propelled them to act and it materiliazed this potential". 

Tellander's abstract of the dissertation is available to read here. The defence is available to watch here