The Sudanese Studies Programme at Durham University, led by the Departments of Law and History, calls for applications, particularly from Sudan and South Sudan nationals, for three one-term visiting scholarships based at Grey College, Durham, for September-December 2014. For the application information, please see here:
Category Archives: Sudan
Most people I meet here in Juba are frantically reading about South Sudan; pretty much anything they can get their hands on. The sheer complexity of living and attempting to work here – let alone run organisations in South Sudan – means that, firstly, people realize that they don’t know enough; then they realize they don’t know enough history; then they realize they don’t have enough time.
Which is why pre-reading is important. Not just the usual suspects – as I mentioned, I think, Douglas H. Johnson is out here working with me on the National Archives project and while we are a terrifying team (I hope), I am constantly reminded that he wrote the seminal book on South Sudan’s civil wars – but the extended, historical pre-reading and thought, the realization that you can’t just read about the CPA period, and the increasingly prevalent and frustrating idea that you can work in South Sudan without trying to understand Sudan.
So this is why I’m going to do a shameless plug. Most of the heads of missions and embassies here in Juba are alumni of the Rift Valley Institute’s Field Courses; I assisted my PhD supervisor, Professor Justin Willis of Durham University, in running the 2012 course last summer. And despite having just spent a year’s worth of time in an excellent library, in six archives, and doing very little work that wasn’t reading, writing and thinking about Sudan and South Sudan, it was extremely intensive and absolutely vital to my understanding of the two countries.
I can’t recommend the Sudan and South Sudan course enough; the other courses I hear from previous participants are just as intensive and worthwhile. (They are also fabulous networking opportunities.) So, despite my RVI affiliation, I’m plugging. Find the briefs and outlines below.
I’ve been slightly surprised by how many enquiries I get about the borders of South Sudan and Sudan; I’m not a borders expert, and I definitely have no answers. However, since my rant a few weeks ago about the interminable question of maps, I’m posting again to provide two key links to material on the Sudanese borderlands.
I posted the link to the full text of the September 2012 agreements between Sudan and South Sudan. These are being called both predictable and game-changing; I’m not going to get in to that, but I’m personally settled in for another few years of Doha-style endless talks and agreements.
What I’m interested in, obviously, is the text of the framework agreement on the status of nationals, which was signed just after my birthday in what was obviously a belated present. This enshrined the standard “four freedoms”, as per the four freedoms agreement between Sudan and Egypt: the freedom of movement, property ownership, residence and economic activity between the two countries (4.1). The agreement’s practicalities will be hashed out further in a yet undrafted “elaboration” of the terms.
What I find curious is clause 4.2 – “A person who has already exercised any of the freedoms conferred by this Agreement shall not be deprived of that freedom by reason of the amendment or termination of this Agreement.”
Does this mean that people who have previously resided or traveled to Sudan, or who own property in Khartoum, will have these rights respected indefinitely – or just from the signing of this agreement onwards? Who managed to get this clause in, and how is this going to work? I’m intrigued, and will be looking forward to the next round on this, and do some asking around in Juba.
The international Sudans conference in Bonn was only my second conference paper I’ve presented, and I’m definitely still learning the art of presentation (and still relying too heavily on notes to stop the shakey fear overtaking me too much).
One of the things I was particularly pleased with in my paper was that it was an example of an area of serious research – on citizenship – but using an example of how the theories of this citizenship literature and debate is actually working in practice; something that actually rarely comes up, other than in reference to the Southern Sudanese people stranded with no paperwork at all. The people with some paperwork are often left out in a focus on the terrible, extreme cases.
This meant that I had no conclusive answers and only the evidence that I have been collecting, in between my PhD research (as this is not the focus of my PhD!) over the last couple of years. I really enjoyed the fact that – despite being while I was still standing on a terrifyingly large, raised stage – people were giving me additional information and ideas in the questions; I also enjoyed the fact that I was confident enough in my work to say what we don’t know, what there is no information on. This is what a “work in progress” is like, I thought. It makes you feel both insecure – should I have emphasised the historical and Sudan-wide nature of what I was talking about more? But I had only suspicions about that, I haven’t been to the offices in Khartoum in the same way – and pleased – I am one of the few people who has looked into this process in practice, and it’s a good feeling. I don’t know what I’m going to do with the information, and it needs a lot more development, but it was fun.
And with a thing in progress, as soon as you start thinking about it, stuff appears: this article, about form-fillers in Khartoum, turned up on AFP yesterday, and nicely fits in to my little developing side-project.
I do concentrate, I promise! But I also find my notebook – which is a kind of field diary of everything – gets filled with illustrations of the people and conferences I go to, including listeners, ranters, speakers and other idlers like me. So here are some small cartoons of the past week, and from the Rift Valley Institute Sudans course in Lukenya in May. (All copyright is obviously mine, but if you’re illustrated here and want it taken down, or would like to use any of them, please get in touch.)