"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)


Darfur & incomplete understanding

This is the second in a series of posts for Fighting for Darfur author Rebecca Hamilton, who is working on a discussion guide for the book. Weight in with your answer below.
A mass movement approach to atrocity prevention must, by definition, bring in people who do not have a background with the history of the country for whose people they are being encouraged to advocate for. In Fighting for Darfur, advocacy movement leader, Sam Bell says “Looking back, I wish ‘2005 Sam’ had been more inquisitive about all of Sudan’s challenges, and not just the ones labeled ‘genocide’.” How did the lack of understanding about all of Sudan’s challenges impact the way the Darfur activists framed the crisis and the solutions they advocated for? How might this apply to other situations beyond Sudan that citizens are getting involved with?


Blogger Tom Murphy said...

My idealized self will say that the nuance of the politics that take place in a country like Sudan which produces an outcome like Darfur should be understood as much as possible by activists. Thinking practically, this is just not possible or even realistic to expect. By having the bar so high people will not be interested in taking part in advocating for change.

So the trade-off is a hard balance. To me, I think that noise makers really only need to only understand enough to make noise and allow those with an acute understanding of the situation to then gain access to political leaders and enact change.

This could run into problems as success will only been seen as ending the situation entirely rather than taken with small gains. There is good reason to set the highest goals possible, but not understanding what it takes to achieve them further complicates things.

Frankly, I am glad that I do not have to initiate an awareness campaign like Darfur.

Thursday, May 19, 2011 9:29:00 AM

Blogger mary said...

I have nothing intelligent to add to the conversation, but I just want to say "thanks" for the discussions on this blog - I learn SO much every week to apply to our grass-roots work among African refugees here in Atlanta and our development efforts in the Congo.

Saturday, May 21, 2011 6:52:00 AM

Anonymous Laura said...

While it is true that a mass mobilization of peoples will ultimately involve individuals with little or no knowledge of the conflict, I believe that there must be a top down approach to advocacy education that provides access to the resources that explain the historical, social, and political causal factors of a conflict.

For any activist, especially those on the ground, I think this is necessary to engage the population in a positive and useful way. All too often large organizations get involved with no real knowledge of the situation and end up doing more harm than good. They splinter the intended positive effects of aid because of their ignorance.

Conflicts are complicated. When we insert our western "omniscience" into conflicts that we don't seek to understand then ultimately our efforts will be futile at producing justice and peace for the innocent caught in the cross hairs.

Monday, May 23, 2011 9:15:00 PM

Blogger texasinafrica said...

Thanks, Mary, I appreciate your kind words.

Monday, May 23, 2011 9:35:00 PM


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