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War of Visions : Conflict of Identities in the Sudan

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<p>The civil war that has intermittently raged in the Sudan since independence in 1956 is, according to Francis Deng, a conflict of contrasting and seemingly incompatible identities in the Northern and Southern parts of the country. Identity is seen as a function of how people identify themselves and are identified in racial, ethnic, cultural, linguistic, and religious terms. The identity question related to how such concepts determine or influence participation and distribution in the political, economic, social, and cultural life of the country.</p> <p>War of Visions aims at shedding light on the anomalies of the identity conflict. The competing models in the Sudan are the Arab-Islamic mold of the North, representing two-thirds of the country in territory and population, and the remaining Southern third, which is indigenously African in race, ethnicity, culture, and religion, with an educated Christianized elite. But although the North is popularly defined as racially Arab, the people are a hybrid of Arab and African elements, with the African physical characteristics predominating in most tribal groups.</p> <p>This configuration is the result of a historical process that stratified races, cultures, and religions, and fostered a &quot;passing&quot; into the Arab-Islamic mold that discriminated against the African race and cultures. The outcome of this process is a polarization that is based more on myth than on the realities of the situation. The identity crisis has been further complicated by the fact that Northerners want to fashion the country on the basis of their Arab- Islamic identity, while the South is decidedly resistant.</p> <p>Francis Deng presents three alternative approaches to the identity crisis. First, he argues that by bringing to the surface the realities of the African elements of identity in the North-- thereby revealing characteristics shared by all Sudanese--a new basis for the creation of a common identity could be established that fosters equitable</p>

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The civil war that has intermittently raged in the Sudan since independence in 1956 is, according to Francis Deng, a conflict of contrasting and seemingly incompatible identities in the Northern and Southern parts of the country. Identity is seen as a function of how people identify themselves and are identified in racial, ethnic, cultural, linguistic, and religious terms. The identity question related to how such concepts determine or influence participation and distribution in the political, economic, social, and cultural life of the country.

War of Visions aims at shedding light on the anomalies of the identity conflict. The competing models in the Sudan are the Arab-Islamic mold of the North, representing two-thirds of the country in territory and population, and the remaining Southern third, which is indigenously African in race, ethnicity, culture, and religion, with an educated Christianized elite. But although the North is popularly defined as racially Arab, the people are a hybrid of Arab and African elements, with the African physical characteristics predominating in most tribal groups.

This configuration is the result of a historical process that stratified races, cultures, and religions, and fostered a "passing" into the Arab-Islamic mold that discriminated against the African race and cultures. The outcome of this process is a polarization that is based more on myth than on the realities of the situation. The identity crisis has been further complicated by the fact that Northerners want to fashion the country on the basis of their Arab- Islamic identity, while the South is decidedly resistant.

Francis Deng presents three alternative approaches to the identity crisis. First, he argues that by bringing to the surface the realities of the African elements of identity in the North-- thereby revealing characteristics shared by all Sudanese--a new basis for the creation of a common identity could be established that fosters equitable

The civil war that has raged intermittently in the Sudan since independence in 1956 is a conflict of contrasting and seemingly incompatible identities in the Northern and Southern parts of the country. Identity is seen as a function of how people identify themselves and are identified by others in terms of race, ethnicity, culture, language, and religion. The identity question relates to how such concepts determine or influence participation and distribution in the political, economic, social, and cultural life of the country. War of Visions sheds light on the anomalies of the identity conflict and presents competing models: the Arab-Islamic mold of the North, representing two thirds of the country in territory and population, and the remaining Southern third, which is indigenously African in race, ethnicity, culture, and religion, with an educated Christianized elite. But although the North is popularly defined as racially Arab, the people are a hybrid of Arab and African elements, with the African physical characteristics predominating in most tribal groups. This configuration is the result of a historical process that stratified races, cultures, and religions and fostered a "passing" into the Arab-Islamic mold that discriminated against the African race and cultures. The outcome of this process is a polarization that is based more on myth than on the realities of the situation. The identity crisis has been further complicated by the fact that Northerners want to fashion the country on the basis of their Arab-Islamic identity, while the South is decidedly resistant.

Specifications

Publisher
Brookings Institution Press
Book Format
Paperback
Original Languages
English
Number of Pages
592
Author
Francis M Deng
ISBN-13
9780815717935
Publication Date
August, 1995
Assembled Product Dimensions (L x W x H)
8.98 x 6.21 x 1.44 Inches
ISBN-10
0815717938

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Francis Deng is a reno...

Francis Deng is a renowned Sudanese scholar and statesman. In this book he explains the conflict in southern Sudan in terms of identities and visions. He also gives a lot of background on his own Dinka ethnic group, and on the situation in Abyei, where he comes from, a small enclave of southerners on the northern side of the 1956 border.

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