Perceiving precarity and extremism in Nuruddin Farah’s North of Dawn

Keywords: precariat, Somali migrant community, extremism, social marginalization, African migration literature, trauma


Somali citizens, both at home and abroad, have been reduced to a life of uncertainty, instability and insecurity. This article considers Somalis as part of the ‘precariat’ (as theorized by Pierre Bourdieu, Guy Standing, and others). Drawing on critical terrorism and trauma scholarship, the article gauges the experiences of the precariat subject, highlighting how these experiences affect the daily lives of the Somali migrant community in Nuruddin Farah’s North of Dawn (2018). The aim of this article is to consider the relationship among precarity, extremism and the postcolonial émigré with regard to the contingent and fractious relations established by and between the Somali migrant characters and their hosts in the novel. Whereas predominant framings of precarity are characterized by labor insecurity, lack of any stable economic identity, and the fear of losing what one has, my argument in this article is that extremism is both a response to and attendant agent of precarity as presented in the novel. My contention is that Farah engages the precariat as extremist in the narrative present of the novel, highlighting the ways in which those that face social identification and marginalization are both at risk and risky to others.

Author Biography

Nick Mdika Tembo, University of Malawi, Zomba, Malawi

Nick Mdika Tembo is a senior lecturer in the English Department at the University of Malawi, Zomba, Malawi.


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How to Cite
Tembo, N. M. (2020). Perceiving precarity and extremism in Nuruddin Farah’s North of Dawn. Tydskrif Vir Letterkunde, 57(1), 96-105.
Research articles