Second session seminar “Readings and fieldworks in Sudan”

Le Soudan Nilotique et l’administration britannique (1898-1956), by Nicole Grandin 1982: historical and political anthropology of British colonization

Seminar « Readings and fieldworks in Sudan », CEDEJ Khartoum, 10th January 2022, 10 am

This seminar combines the reading of social sciences monographs on Sudan with reflections rooted in the experience of the research fields that Barbara Casciarri (University Paris 8/LAVUE UMR 7218/CEDEJ) conducted in this country between 1989 and today.

As a second session, she proposes to read Le Soudan Nilotique et l’administration britannique (1898-1956), by Nicole Grandin (1982). This is a seminal work, in which the author matches archive sources, an inquiry with retired staff members of the Sudan Political Service, and anthropological field sources (mainly Cunnison 1966 and Asad 1970), in order to build a multilevel and complex perspective about the ideologies and practices of Indirect Rule in colonial Sudan.

The core of the book concerns the elaboration and application of “native policies” by British rulers in Sudan. Based on a rich written documentation, the author provides an in-depth description of the construction of a particular way of thinking of and governing Sudanese peoples by their rulers, adding insights from an original fieldwork carried out with the unique body of the Sudan Political Service. The use of empirical data on pastoral peoples studied by anthropologists (Kababish and Baggara), supports N. Grandin in her objective of constructing a critical view of colonial discourses and sources on Sudan.

By presenting this book, showing its importance for her own studies on mid-90s Native Administration revival in Sudan, Barbara Casciarri also wish to spread among a Sudanese public the knowledge of this classical work, written in French and unfortunately never translated in English or Arabic.

Key-words: Anglo-Egyptian Sudan – Native Administration – Sudan Political Service – Colonial ideologies and practices – Tribal political structures and leaderships.

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