Little Norway in Somalia–Understanding Complex Belongings of Transnational Somali Families



This article explores Norwegian-Somali parents’ motivation for returning to Somalia, how life has unfolded in the face of their return and how they are preparing for their future return to Norway. The article is a result of an ethnographic study of Norwegian-Somali returnees in Somalia. The analysis reveals that the desire to avoid Norwegian government surveillance of families served as an important backdrop for their return to Somalia. The motivations for returning to Somalia were also related to experiences of stigmatisation in Norway and the complexity of belongings to Norway and Somalia. The study suggests that parents work towards strengthening their belonging to both Somalia and Norway. The study further highlights that, by moving, the parents perceive that their children will be proud of their Somaliness and bond with family members in Somalia. To maintain a belongingness to Norway, parents actively work towards cultivating their children’s Norwegianness by creating a Norwegian school, celebrating Norwegian Constitution Day and emphasising Norwegian cultural repertories in their everyday lives.


TransnationalismReturn migrationSomalisBelongingsCultural repertories
  • Year: 2022
  • Volume: 12 Issue: 1
  • Page/Article: 88–104
  • DOI: 10.33134/njmr.371
  • Submitted on 17 Jul 2020
  • Accepted on 18 May 2021
  • Published on 7 Mar 2022
  • Peer Reviewed