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Professor of anthropology and African studies, Colby University

October 19th, 2010

Area of Expertise: Law and Human Rights, Migration and Integration, War and Conflict
Geographical Expertise - Region: North America, Subsaharan Africa
Geographical Expertise - Country: Somalia
Language: English
Field of Work: Academia, Author/Novelist
City: Waterville
Country: USA
Continent: North America


Catherine Besteman Catherine BestemanCatherine Besteman is a professor of anthropology and African studies at Colby University. Her teaching interests focus on the roots of violent conflict and the forces that sustain inequality and produce poverty in Africa.

Her first major research project was in southern Somalia in the late 1980s, immediately prior to the civil war. The research she produced on Somali Bantu communities along the Jubba River Valley sought to explain why this population was so victimized during the war. Many of the surviving refugees from the villages in which she worked now live in Lewiston Maine, and Professor Besteman continues to work with them to document their experiences since the outbreak of civil war in 1991.

She also studies  post-Apartheid transformation in Cape Town, South Africa, with a particular focus on local activists working to overcome Cape Town’s enduring patterns of racism and poverty.

Professor Besteman has taught African studies and anthropology at Colby University since 1994. She is the author of Unraveling Somalia: Race, Violence and the Legacy of Slavery, The Struggle for Land in Southern Somalia: The War Behind the War, and Violence: A Reader. She also co-edited with Hugh Gusterson, Why America’s Top Pundits Are Wrong: Anthropologists Talk Back, a collection of anthropological writings which challenges the portrait of the post Cold War world promoted by some of American’s foremost commentators.

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