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Keren Weitzberg

Keren Weitzberg received her PhD in history from Stanford University. She has conducted extensive archival research and oral histories in Kenya and the Kenyan/Somali borderlands and has lived, studied, and led study abroad programs in countries in West, East, Southern, and Northeast Africa. Owing to her use of diverse methodologies and her interest in the ways in which the past and present inform one another, her work sits at the intersection of the disciplines of history and anthropology.

Her specializations include nationalism in Kenya and Somalia; the history of Muslim societies in East Africa; and the colonial and postcolonial history of Kenya (especially as it relates to the wider Indian Ocean world and the Horn of Africa). Her research addresses themes of borderlands; globalization; race and ethnicity; alternative sovereignties; pastoralism; diaspora; and Islam and non-secular thought.

Keren has published in the Journal of Northeast African Studies and The Journal of African History. She is currently working on a book project, which is under contract with Ohio University Press for the New African Histories Series, entitled We Do Not Have Borders: Greater Somalia and the Predicaments of Belonging in Kenya. Spanning the pre-colonial, colonial, and postcolonial eras, this book traces a history of people who identify as both Kenyan and Somali. We Do Not Have Borders asks: Who gets to claim indigenous status? Why did Somalis, who have long lived within the borders of the country, come to be thought of as only questionably indigenous to Kenya? Using oral histories, archival documents, and other written records, We Do Not Have Borders analyzes the processes by which state institutions at times facilitated, and at other times criminalized, earlier forms of kinship, cosmopolitanism, and nomadic life. Examining how Kenyan Somalis imagined borderlessness from a position of marginality within the nation-state, this book questions the scholarly focus on ethno-nationalism and explores the reasons why certain forms of transnationalism trouble the international state system.