Maria Brons analyses the contemporary political history of Somalia from a pre-colonial, stateless society through independence, modern state formation and collapse, to the present time where new states emerged that are embedded in both, Somali traditional security and conflict resolution mechanisms and modern state structures, and have partly proven to be much more stable than any other state on Somali soil has ever been.
Maria Brons particularly explores the emergence of Somaliland state in Northwestern Somalia that in May 1991 declared separation from the union with the South and since then successfully tried to re-establish law and order and adapted a grassroots-oriented approach to state formation. Also other attempts to state formation in Somalia are discussed, such as Puntland and the Riverine State.
The case analysis is theoretically informed by a non-conventional approach to security studies, using critical security, that takes society and not the state as main reference point. The author re-conceptualizes security and sovereignty, political science concepts that are conventionally state-based, from a societal perspective and examines their implications for Somali state formation.