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Call for Papers: War in the Sudan

Dotawo 8 (2021): War in the Sudan

War has been a recurring form of violent interaction between communities in the Sudan since the Stone Age, and many chronological divisions in the history of the Sudan are set at events such as wars, battles, conquests, and peace treaties. Still, warfare has often been an overlooked subject among researchers working in the country. A reason for this may be that periods of stability or evolving complexity are usually longer than episodes of war, which occur during relatively short timespans at irregular intervals. Furthermore, the contemporary Sudan has been a violent place, and this has possibly made war in the country a sensitive topic and restrained researchers from making war the subject of their research.

The modern borders of the Sudan are a construct of war. First through the conquests by the Ottoman rulers of Egypt between the 1820s and the 1870s. Then the Anglo-Egyptian conquest in 1898, which also incorporated the independent sultanate of Darfur in 1916. The borders of the Anglo-Egyptian condominium were maintained when Sudan became independent in 1956, but the northern and southern parts of the independent country thereafter fought on and off in the longest civil war in Africa. The war was terminated with the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005, which culminated with a referendum where the southern part of the country voted for secession. The country was split in two in 2011. Nevertheless, violent conflict and war continued as the new states of South Sudan and Sudan were fighting over territory and oil fields in the border regions. Since late 2013, South Sudan has become deeply split in a civil war that is dividing the country along ethnic boundaries with great human sufferings. In the north, Sudan had a central government at war with systematically marginalized peripheries and a suppressed population. Increasing resistance from the inhabitants resulted in the toppling of the old regime in 2019. The new transitional government is now aiming at ending the internal conflicts and integrating the peripheries, and this brings hope to the war-torn country.

War in the Sudan has deep roots. An Upper Palaeolithic cemetery at Jebel Sahaba in the far north of the country is often quoted as the earliest evidence of war in world history. More than 20 victims killed in an attack with bows and arrows were buried at Jebel Sahaba.

The extremities of the earliest war and the violent conflicts in modern times demonstrate that war in the Sudan covers a great time span and various levels of organization – from violent clashes between ethnic groups to warfare between and within states. In the optimistic spirit of new beginnings in the country, time is ripe to consider war in the Sudan from an academic perspective.

The aim of this issue of Dotawo is to explore and explain wars in the Sudan either as case-studies or as broader historical patterns. We seek contributions from various disciplines, such as archaeology, anthropology, history, papyrology and philology, and from all epochs and regions of the Sudan. We suggest research questions such as:

  • Which factors cause war and under which circumstances?
  • Which warfare tactics are used and for which purposes?
  • How do wars come to an end?
  • How are societies affected or changed by wars?
  • How is warfare represented in mythology or propaganda?
  • Are societies with certain forms of social and/or political organization more prone to waging war?

We welcome perspectives on warfare that include but are not restricted to the following: Agency-based, culture-contact, ecological, evolutionary, gender, materialist, structural, or structuralist.

Abstract submission: April 3, 2020, and article submission: December 18, 2020.

Please respond to the volume editor: Henriette Hafsaas (