Somalis in the Twin Cities and Columbus

Immigrant Incorporation in New Destinations

Stefanie Chambers
Book Cover

PB: $29.95
EAN: 978-1-4399-1442-7
Publication: Feb 17

HC: $89.50
EAN: 978-1-4399-1441-0
Publication: Feb 17

Ebook: $29.95
EAN: 978-1-4399-1443-4
Publication: Feb 17

250 pages
5.5 x 8.25
12 tables, 6 figs.

Examining the political, economic and social incorporation of Somali Americans in Minnesota’s Twin Cities and in Columbus, Ohio

Read an excerpt from the Introduction (pdf).


In the early 1990s, Somali refugees arrived in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota. Later in the decade, an additional influx of immigrants arrived in a second destination of Columbus, Ohio. These refugees found low-skill jobs in warehouses and food processing plants and struggled as social “outsiders,” often facing discrimination based on their religious traditions, dress, and misconceptions that they are terrorists. The immigrant youth also lacked access to quality educational opportunities.

In Somalis in the Twin Cities and Columbus, Stefanie Chambers provides a cogent analysis of these refugees in Midwestern cities where new immigrant communities are growing. Her comparative study uses qualitative and quantitative data to assess the political, economic, and social variations between these urban areas. Chambers examines how culture and history influenced the incorporation of Somali immigrants in the U.S., and recommends policy changes that can advance rather than impede incorporation.

Her robust investigation provides a better understanding of the reasons these refugees establish roots in these areas, as well as how these resettled immigrants struggle to thrive.


“Somalis in the Twin Cities and Columbus is a very timely and powerful contribution to the national debate on the admission of Muslim refugee immigrants to the American heartland. By judiciously comparing the political, economic, and social incorporation of Somalis in two distinct urban settings, Chambers demonstrates convincingly the crucial roles of historical context, state culture, and public policy in defining the degrees of success in immigrant integration.
Pei-te Lien, University of California Santa Barbara, and co-author of Contested Transformation: Race, Gender, and Political Leadership in 21st Century America

“Chambers’s interviews provide insight into the lives of members of the Somali community before and after their arrival in the United States. Her groundbreaking research into the struggles of one community of color to integrate into our society deepens our knowledge of justice and democracy. Somalis in the Twin Cities and Columbus adds to the growing scholarship employing interpretive methods to expand the boundaries of traditional political and social science. This exceptionally rich study will not only make a significant contribution to a number of literatures but also serve as a strong baseline for future analyses of Somali communities.
Maria Chávez, Pacific Lutheran University, and lead author of Living the Dream: New Immigration Policies and the Lives of Undocumented Latino Youth

"Chambers has set out to investigate the political, economic, and social incorporation of Somalis in the two environments.... (She) has gone about it in a very systematic way...and her book is free from unnecessary academic jargon and easy to digest."
Journal of Urban Affairs

Table of Contents

List of Figures and Tables

1. Immigrant Incorporation in New Destinations
2. Columbus: Somalis in the Heartland
3. The Twin Cities: Somalis in the North Star State
4. Political Incorporation
5. Economic Incorporation
6. Social Incorporation
7. Moving toward Incorporation

Appendix A. Challenges of Immigrant Incorporation in New Destinations: Somalis in the Twin Cities and Columbus
Appendix B. Immigrant Incorporation in New Destinations: Somalis in the Twin Cities and Columbus
Appendix C. Columbus Somali Incorporation Interviews
Appendix D. Twin Cities Somali Incorporation Interviews


About the Author(s)

Stefanie Chambers is Professor of Political Science at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. She is the author of Mayors and Schools: Minority Voices and Democratic Tensions in Urban Education (Temple).