To Restore a Hospital as Resistance: Transformative Collective Action in Northern Somalia in the 1980s (PhD)

Led by Ebba Tellander

Jul 2017 – Dec 2021

The aim of this research project is to conduct a bottom up investigation of 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. 

The project focuses 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 the resistance in Northern Somalia (today's Somaliland). 

The project asks: How can we explain that people mobilize to help their community in oppressive and conflict settings? How does such initiatives transform societies? 

The story about the professionals is being developed into a 5 part graphic illustration (or cartoon) in a collaboratation between PRIO and Positive Negatives. It will be released as 5 vidoes with a narrator voice. Follow Positive Negatives on Facebook for updates. 

In addtion, a TV series (with 13 episodes) has been produced about the professionals and their individual stories in Somaliland. The production was a collaboration between PRIO and Star TV/REKO research. Please follow this link to read more about the story and the TV program.  


​​​​​PhD project in international social sciences at the International Institute of Social Studies at the Erasmus University of Rotterdam and Peace Research Institute Oslo. 

KEY WORDS: collective action, civil resistance, repression, social movements, societal transformation, responsibility to act 


This is a PhD project that is part of the research project TRANSFORM. It is funded by the Norwegian Research Council. 
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