Being Arab, Muslim, and Sudanese – AUF/PCSI Program 2018/2020

Program Title: “BEING ARAB, MUSLIM, AND SUDANESE” . Reshaping belongings, local practices and state policies in Sudan after the separation of the South Sudan” (2018-2019)


CEDEJ Khartoum (UMIFRE, UMR 3123), Faculty of Economics and Social Studies – University of Khartoum (Sudan), Université Saint-Denis Paris 8 – LAVUE (France), Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology (Germany)

Scientific coordinator: Barbara CASCIARRI, University Paris 8, Associate CEDEJ Khartoum


The project focuses on dynamics of arabization and islamization in relation with national identity building in Sudan, through the analysis of the three notions’ articulation within practical processes and social actors’ practices. The central socio-anthropological approach is based on a micro-scale perspective although paying attention to macro-scale phenomena, mainly state policies related to citizens’ affiliation to an identity forged on categories of Arabness, Islamity and national integration. Rooted in classical works on issues of ethnicity, religion and nationality, the project aims at renewing the scientific contribution of the debate on the relation between Arab identity and Islam and on the issues at stake in the relationship State/citizens in an African country where colonial legacy and ethno-cultural pluralism had made particularly complex the objectives of nation-building.

The project benefits of a coherent research team linked to an ancient and fruitful institutional partnership between CEDEJ, University of Khartoum and two European academic institutions, Paris 8 University and Max Planck Institute. Through interdisciplinarity it takes jointly into account social phenomena implied by the three targeted categories. An original approach brings together various case studies, analyzed through intensive ethnographic methodology, which deeply inquiry multiple paths in making and unmaking the focused groups’ identifications as a source of conflict or as a support to solidarity, searching in these processes breaking points or persistent elements, as well as underlying manipulations. Far for conceiving such categories as merely cultural or symbolic ones, the research looks for their interaction with 1/ urbanization processes and urban/rural interfaces in their moving dynamics ; 2/ territorial configuration and access to natural resources as a driver of belongings reformulation; 3/ the dialectics between ethno-tribal arrangements and state-driven frameworks of identity categorization; 4/ a globalized conjuncture where international actors take part in the redefinition of “Arab Muslim World” and its relation with “Western World”.

Finally, the project is carried out in a particular sociopolitical context : after the long civil war linked to the impasse of post-colonial nation-building, the CPA period (2005-2011) opened again the reflection on local meanings and policies of nationality and citizenship, then, after the separation of South Sudan, Khartoum government put again on the agenda the utopia of a seamless overlapping of ‘Sudanness’, Arabness and Islam. The complexity and historical depth of this context where Sudanese people practices take place and national political orientation are drawn, show the interest of a social sciences’ study on the articulation of the three categories which still define, materially and symbolically, the meaning of “being” and “being considered as” Arab, Muslim and Sudanese in contemporary Sudan.


Ouverture d’un nouveau projet interdisciplinaire du CEDEJ: Arabité, islamité, ‘soudanité’. Enjeux de la redéfinition des appartenances, des pratiques locales et des politiques étatiques au Soudan après la séparation du Sud Soudan (AUF-PCSI 2018-2019).

Après la clôture du projet AUF-PCSI 2014-2017 METRO 2 [link], un nouveau projet AUF-PCSI vient d’être approuvé et sera menée sur les deux ans suivants par une équipe interdisciplinaire (Anthropologie, Sciences Politiques, Géographie, Linguistique, Droit, Histoire) et un partenariat scientifique rassemblant quatre institutions académiques: CEDEJ-Khartoum, Université Paris 8, University of Khartoum, Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology. La présentation en français et anglais du projet est disponible dans les documents ci-joints [deux fichiers PDF]. Le projet démarrera en Janvier 2018, des missions de recherche seront effectuées en Février 2018 et un premier Workshop de l’équipe se tiendra au CEDEJ en Mars 2018


Scientific coordinator: Dr. Barbara CASCIARRI, Maître de Conférence at University Paris 8, Associate CEDEJ Khartoum

Project leader: Dr. Jean-Nicolas BACH, coord. CEDEJ Khartoum

More details/Projet Detaillé:

Project AUF_PCSI 201819 Arabness Islamity Sudanness ENGL

Projet AUF_PCSI 2018_19 Arabité Islamité Soudanité

CEDEJ Khartoum