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



I have a guest post up over on African Arguments' Making Sense of Sudan blog today. Would love to hear your thoughts!


Blogger dcat said...

Laura --
In the review you write the following:

"She does not engage in the debate over whether the crisis in Darfur actually constituted genocide, most famously raised by Mahmood Mamdani in his Saviors and Survivors. Mamdani argues that the situation in Darfur circa 2003-04 did not constitute genocide in the legal sense of the term, and that advocates wrongly construed it as such while ignoring the conflict’s context."

I'm not much of a fan of that Mamdani book and I'm a bit curious why you give him credit for his argument as opposed to Prunier's much more nuanced and smarter argument in what was then (before recent additions) titled "Darfur: The Ambiguous Genocide."

dcat (FPA Africa Blog)

Saturday, June 04, 2011 12:12:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

First of all, I agree that any serious discussion of Sudan that relies on Mamdani as a starting point is problematic to say the least. Anyone who asserts (twice!) that the Sultanate of Darfur was a member of the League of Nations ( and among many other embarrassing gaffes) has some very, very serious credibility issues to overcome.

Otherwise, you're bringing up a larger question of whether the best framework for dealing with conflict is that of international legal norms or realpolitik. This is an important question, but while international jurists did their (imperfect) best to hold governments (in Washington and Khartoum) to international norms, at the end of the day, domestic pressure on Darfur paled in comparison to the realpolitik of ensuring the survival of the CPA.

Time will tell whether that was a wise (if also coldly calculating) decision or not.

Sunday, June 05, 2011 1:55:00 AM

Blogger ewaffle said...

I just ordered “Fighting for Darfur” based on this review. Having spent much time and energy over the years organizing support for various progressive causes (some successful, some much less so) I am intrigued with Rebecca Hamilton’s experience and her analysis of it.

Naming is essential to disseminating one’s views about something. If one gets there first and is able to create or control the name it can be very powerful. For example: the conflict in Darfur is genocide inflicted by the regime in Khartoum; not opposing Khartoum makes one implicit in genocide. Organized, large scale slaughter of civilians, while horrifying and immoral, may not call for military intervention that could result in more death and greater destruction.

Years ago we used a lot of loaded terms, almost always inaccurately–fascism was the genocide of the day–and in doing so weakened the authority we had developed through organizing. I am looking forward to reading “Fighting for Darfur”.

Just started "Fighting for Darfur"--it is on top of the stack of books to finish.

Monday, June 13, 2011 10:12:00 AM

Blogger texasinafrica said...

Hey, Derek, great question. It can mainly be explained in that I was asked to compare her analysis with Mamdani's. :)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011 1:32:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Had they understood the conflict not as a case of good vs. evil, but as a civil war, could advocates have supported extensive negotiations and a power-sharing arrangement with Khartoum, which may have been the only path to real peace and stability in the region?"
Plenty of advocates- including the very influential Alex de Waal, precisely supported this arrangement which was negotiated in Abuja. You seem to be reviewing the book completely out of the real context, of protracted negotiations that took place, with extensive mediation. Yes, there was not a positive outcome in the end. But there is little basis for supporting the opinion that one (small) set of activists was largely responsible for the Darfur outcome... sure, they were minor players (and in Mamdani's treatment an easy target, both mentally and book-sales wise).

Wednesday, June 15, 2011 3:15:00 PM


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