Special Roundtable Monday 3 September – Contemporary History of Sudan & South Sudan – with Willow Berridge, Harry Cross, Cherry Leonardi, Alden Young
We are very pleased to invite you to a discussion on the contemporary history of Sudan and South Sudan with a special Roundtable
Her first book, Civil Uprisings in Modern Sudan, was inspired by her experience of living in the country during the Arab Spring. She was curious as to why the debates about civil protest and authoritarianism in the Middle East and North Africa region overlooked Sudan’s proud record of having been the only country in the region before 2011 to have witnessed civil protests that facilitated a transition from military rule to parliamentary democracy. In particular, the book responded to post-2011 debates about the respective roles of Islamism and secular ideologies in the Arab Spring by highlighting the extent to which ‘Islamist’ or other religiously-orientated groups were willing to collobarate with secularists within the student unions and professional associations that led the protests.
She has recently published (Cambridge University Press) a book on the controversial Sudanese Islamist Hasan al-Turabi. The text explores a number of important themes related to broader analyses of Islamist ideology: charismatic leadership (and its limitations); Islamism as a fusion of Western and Islamic ideologies; Islamism as ‘post-colonial’; the important of local political contexts in shaping religious ideology; and Islamist concepts of the Islamic state, democracy and jihad.
Harry CROSS is a PhD candidate at Durham University. His research focuses on the role of banks in Sudan after independence and until the nationalisation of Sudan’s private banking sector in 1970.
Harry is especially interested in the relationship between financial power and political power in Sudan, and interactions between local economic pressures and wider transformations in global political economy.
Cherry LEONARDI is Associate Professor of African History at Durham University and works primarily on South Sudan and northern Uganda. Her research has focused on local-level state formation since the nineteenth century: she is the author of Dealing with Government in South Sudan: Histories of chiefship, community and state (2013). Her current research projects include work on boundaries and land governance, witchcraft and security and access to energy/fuel, and she is also co-director of the South Sudan Museum Collections network.
Alden YOUNG is a political and economic historian of Africa. He is particularly interested in the ways in which Africans participated in the creation of the current international order. Since 2014, he has been an assistant professor in African History and the Director of the Africana Studies Program at Drexel University. He received his Ph.D. in 2013 from Princeton University. He then served for two years as a Dean’s Mellon Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow in the Department of Africana Studies at the University of Pennsylvania.His first book published by Cambridge University Press (Africa Series) Transforming Sudan: Decolonisation, Economic Development and State Formation, 2018 offers a historically grounded account of policymaking in postcolonial Africa. It challenges social scientists’ common perception of the post-colonial African state as rapacious and predatory with institutions that serve little other purpose besides patronage and legitimation. In the place of this narrative, he argues that Sudanese policymakers and officials like their peers across the decolonizing world believed in the potential of the postcolonial state to solve social questions in the public interest.
Alex De Waal gave his book Transforming Sudan advanced praise: « Today, a technocratic, economistic vision of a modern Sudan is a half-remembered dream. Alden Young’s superb book – a combination of political economy and cultural history – brings into focus the important but neglected story of how the country was once a model of planned development, led by an elite of Sudanese and British economists. »