The Darfur Conflict in Evolving Politico-economic and Socio-cultural Contexts: The 'Games', the 'Players' and the 'Stakes'

By:
Prof. Gunnar Haaland
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The atrocities in Darfur have to be understood in the context of a multitude of 'games' involving local, regional, national and international 'players'. Darfur is a region (about the size of England) in Western Sudan. The region is multi-ethnic (but overwhelmingly Muslim) with various African ethnic groups (e. g. Fur, Mazalit,) as farmers in a middle zone, or as agro-pastoralists (e. g. Zaghawa) in a north-western zone; with Arab Camel nomads in a northern zone, and Baggara Arabs as cattle nomads in a southern zone. In the 1960s the relations between the Arabs and non-Arabs were largely symbiotic. However, among the educated Fur elite a more articulate regional movement had already emerged. In the 1970s conflicts between nomads and farmers caused by resource competition were evident. As the national Government from the 1980s pursued a more aggressive Islamization policy based the radical teachings of the Muslim Brothers, confrontations between the Central Government and the non-Arab groups in Darfur intensified, leading to more united regional political movements and armed resistance. The 'players' in the Darfur 'game' are positioned with reference to overlapping and contrasting interests: ethnic identities; ecologic competition; economic polarization between Darfur and the Nile valley; rivalry between traditional Islamic brotherhoods (Ansar and Khatmiya) with their affiliation to different traditional political parties (Umma and DUP); the growth of the National Islamic Front party ideologically affiliated with the Muslim Brothers. This complex situation produced rapid changes of alliances between different 'players', and stimulated them to engage in intensive symbolic work to create solidarities among competing factions. In this complex 'game' the weak central Government (opposed even by traditional Islamic Brotherhoods) have played the dangerous card of arming local militias recruited from Arab nomad groups. To disarm them is difficult and can lead them to turn their weapons against the Government.


Keywords: Darfur, Ethnic Boundaries, Muslim Brotherhoods, Political Integration, Economic Dualism
Stream: Nations, Nationalism, Communities
Presentation Type: Workshop Presentation in English
Paper: Darfur Conflict in Evolving Politico-economic and Socio-cultural Contexts, The, Darfur Conflict in Evolving Politico-economic and Socio-cultural Contexts, The


Prof. Gunnar Haaland

Department of Social Anthropology, University of Bergen
Norway

Positions 1988-present Professor. Dept. of Social Anthropology. University of Bergen. 1981-88 Senior Research Associate. CMI 1976-77 Director. Human Science Team. ILCA 1967-81 Lecturer Dept. of Social Anthropology, University of Bergen Research Projects Since 2002 Globalization of Social Networks and Ethnic Identity. South East Asia, South Asia, China, Ethiopia 1992-97 Tribhuvan, Bergen Human Ecology Project. Project. Nepal 1976-80 The Savanna Project. Sudan and Kenya Consultancies. Consultancies in Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Mozabique, Botswana, Mali, Yemen, India, Bangladesh Bhutan, Maldives, Thailand Main publications: 1969 'Economic Determinants in Ethnic Processes' in Barth, F.: Ethnic Groups and Boundaries. 1972 'Nomadization as an Economic Career among Sedentaries in the Sudan Savanna Belt' in Cunnison, I. and James, W.: Essays in Sudan Ethnography. 1977. 'Pastoral Systems of Production', in O'Keefe and Wisner, B.: Landuse and Development. 1978. 'Ethnic Groups and Language Use in Darfur' in Thelwell, R.: Aspects of Language in the Sudan. 1979 with McCown and deHaan: 'Interaction between Cultivation and Livestock Production in Semi-arid Africa', in Hall, A., Cannell, G. H., and Lawton, H. W.: Agriculture in Semi-arid Environments. 1980 'Problems of Savannah Development: The Sudan Case, Department of Social Anthropology. University of Bergen 1984 with Keddeman, W., 'Poverty Analysis: The Somali Case'. Economic Development and Cultural Change. 1990 'Aid and Sustainable Development in a Dual Economy'. Forum for Utviklingsstudier. 1991. 'Introduction' and 'Cultural Content and Ethnic Identity'. in Grunhaug, Haaland and Henriksen: The Ecology of Choice and Symbol. 1998 'Beer, Blood and Mother's Milk. Sudan Notes and Records' 2002. Nature, Culture and Society. In Chaudhury, Aase and Vetaas (eds): Vegetation and Society in Nepal. 2004 "From Nepali hill farmers to business managers in Thailand: Explaining causes in evolving contexts" in B. Walters and B. McCay (ed) Against the Tides.

Ref: D05P0149