CEDEJ seminar “Slaves into Workers. Emancipation and Labor in Colonial Sudan”

The next session of our seminar “Readings and fieldworks in Sudan” will take place on Wednesday 1st June 2022, 10.30 am

It is our pleasure to welcome Barbara Casciarri’s presentation (University Paris 8/LAVUE/ CEDEJ) on the book “Slaves into Workers. Emancipation and Labor in Colonial Sudan“, by Ahmad A. Sikainga.

This seminar combines the reading of social sciences monographs on Sudan with reflections rooted in the experience of the research fields I conducted in this country between 1989 and today. As a third book, I propose to read Slaves into Workers. Emancipation and Labor in Colonial Sudan, by Ahmad A. Sikainga (1996).

This work matches archives documents and oral sources with the objective of drawing a picture of the complex interplay between ethnicity, slavery, labor relations and urban development in Sudan. By focusing on an issue, which have been understudied in the history of Sudan, Sikainga unveils the ambiguous relation of British colonization with slavery and its role in the process of ethnic categories’ construction. He also argues the importance of reading ethnicity and the heritage of slavery within wider dynamics of native working-class formation, its fragmentation and contribution in shaping social and urban spaces, mainly in the capital, Khartoum. Based on an historical perspective, this work is also a major contribution to “urban anthropology”, an approach which has been longtime neglected in Sudan, despite a rich tradition of anthropological studies.

Through the presentation of this volume I will propose a general reflection, about the interest of a dialogue between history and anthropology for analyzing sociocultural dynamics in Sudan, and, more particularly, about the contribution of Sikainga’s work to my researches in popular neighborhoods of Khartoum.


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