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Rift Valley Institute

Making local knowledge work

Sudan and South Sudan Course 2017

To make sense of current dynamics, this year’s Sudan and South Sudan Course, held from 4 to 9 June in Uganda, examines key themes of society, economy and politics in both countries at present as well as in their near and distant past.

The 2017 RVI field course on Sudan and South Sudan will survey the changing faces and underlying continuities of the two nations. As the United States moves to lift 23-year-old sanctions against Sudan, the United Nations Security Council is considering an arms embargo and other sanctions on the ‘failing state’ of South Sudan; but both states’ factional and weak central regimes continue to pursue military solutions to governance problems.



Over the past year, the Government of Sudan concluded a contested national dialogue process with the aim of expanding the ruling alliance dominated by the National Congress Party (NCP) under President Bashir. But peace in Sudan’s troubled peripheries remains elusive. With its improving regional and international relations, Khartoum believes it can enforce rather than negotiate peace in South Kordofan, the Blue Nile and Darfur. In Sudan’s heartlands, economic malaise and government austerity fuel civil protest and brutal security response.

Click to download the Sudan and South Sudan Field Course FlyerIn South Sudan, the transitional government of President Salva Kiir and his alliance of Sudan’s People Liberation Army (SPLA) elites are pursuing, on one hand, a national dialogue. On the other hand, they are pursuing a war of depopulation and collective violence across central and western Equatoria, against disparate rebel groups not united ‘In Opposition’. On the geographic and social fringes of both Sudan and South Sudan, communities continue to seek out safety and opportunities within and beyond the state’s boundaries.

The course will explore these current dynamics and look to contextualise and question ideas of social ‘resilience’ and diversity; the regions’ myriad economies; the roots and logics of continuing conflicts; local and international attempts at peace and reform and the internal drives to revolution and restitution. We hope you join us for a week that promises vibrant debate and intense analysis.

The Co-Directors of Studies for the course will be Magdi el-Gizouli and Nicki Kinderlsey. They will be joined by a team of leading regional and international experts. These will be announced over the course of the coming months.

Highlights of the syllabus

DAY 1 Introduction to Sudan and South Sudan: modern history and social worlds

  • Who do we think we are? Ethnicity and race in the Sudans
  • Sudan’s many Islams and Christian faiths in the Sudans
  • Music and politics in the Sudans

DAY 2 State formation and resistance

  • The hakuma in perspective
  • The Islamist Movement and the state
  • Sudan’s chiefs and traditional authority

DAY 3 The extractive state and local livelihoods

  • The borderland economies of the Sudans
  • Land rights, uses and expropriation
  • State wealth and economic power: And its limits

DAY 4 Contemporary conflicts and political change

  • Genealogies of insurgency and the state of armies
  • Political factionalism and regime change: how does it happen?
  • The neighbours: regional geopolitics, arms flows and peace interventions

DAY 5 International interventions, a history of agreements and future perspectives

  • A history of interventions
  • Peace mediations and why they fail
  • Missions without end: humanitarianism in the Sudans

Core teaching staff

Magdi el-Gizouli MD PhD, Co-Director of Studies
Writer, StillSUDAN

Nicki Kindersley PhD, Co-Director of Studies
Political and historical researcher

David Deng
South Sudan Law Society

Ghazi Atabani PhD
Sudanese politician and physician

Xavier Furtado
World Bank, Khartoum

Kuyang Logo
University of Juba

Cherry Leonardi PhD
Senior Lecturer, Modern African History, Durham University

Douglas Johnson PhD
Independent historian, author of The Root Causes of Sudan’s Civil Wars

Reem Shawkat

Fr Mathew Pagan PhD
Vice Chancellor, Catholic University of Juba

Willow Berridge PhD
Lecturer in History, Newcastle University

Aly Verjee

Benedetta de Alessi PhD
Researcher, UNOCHA Nairobi

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