article in African Affairs: Arab Identity and Ideology in Sudan: The Politics of Language, Ethnicity, and Race

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Fri Jan 11 14:23:22 UTC 2008

African Affairs Advance Access originally published online on December 18, 2007
African Affairs 2008 107(426):21-43; doi:10.1093/afraf/adm068

(c) The Author [2008]. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf
of Royal African Society. All rights reserved

Arab Identity and Ideology in Sudan: The Politics of Language,
Ethnicity, and Race

Heather J. Sharkey teaches in the Department of Near Eastern Languages
and Civilizations, University of Pennsylvania

In what is now Sudan there occurred over the centuries a process of
ta'rib, or Arabization, entailing the gradual spread of both Arab
identity and the Arabic language among northern peoples. After the
Anglo-Egyptian conquest of 1898, British colonial policies favoured a
narrow elite from within these 'Arab' communities. Members of this
elite went on to develop a conception of a self-consciously Sudanese
Arabic national identity, in the process adapting the term 'Sudanese'
(sudani), which derived from an Arabic word for blackness and
previously had servile connotations. At decolonization in the 1950s,
these nationalists turned ta'rib, into an official policy that sought
to propagate Arabic quickly throughout a territory where scores of
languages were spoken. This article considers the historical diffusion
of Sudanese Arabic-language culture and Arab identity, contrasts this
with the post-colonial policy of Arabization, and analyses the
relevance of the latter for civil conflicts in Southern Sudan, the
Nuba Mountains, and, more recently, Darfur. Far from spreading
Arabness, Arabization policy sharpened non-Arab and, in some cases,
self-consciously 'African' (implying culturally pluralist) identities.
Arabization policy also accompanied, in some quarters, the growth of
an ideology of Arab cultural and racial supremacy that is now most
evident in Darfur.
N.b.: Listing on the lgpolicy-list is merely intended as a service to
its members
and implies neither approval, confirmation nor agreement by the owner
or sponsor of
the list as to the veracity of a message's contents. Members who
disagree with a
message are encouraged to post a rebuttal. (H. Schiffman, Moderator)

More information about the Lgpolicy-list mailing list