The paradoxes of Sudanese politics

25 May 2023. From 18:30 | Conference | English | IEMed
slideshow image Sudanese demonstrators paint a mural in Khartoum, Sudan April 14, 2019. REUTERS/Umit Bektas

The recent tragic eruption of violence in Khartoum has illuminated some of the paradoxes that exist in the country. The city has been a sanctuary for those fleeing conflict even during the most violent civil wars. Over two million displaced war victims have migrated to Khartoum from conflict areas, with little resulting violent conflict.

This paradox is one of many surrounding Sudan’s conflicts. I have been asked on numerous occasions by observers of Sudanese politics about the apparent contradiction between the endemic political violence and conflict that dominates public life, and the phenomenal civility that Sudanese people demonstrate in social contexts towards both compatriots and strangers alike, even amid the numerous conflicts that have grown in intensity, ferocity, and longevity over the years. Sudanese culture is distinct in the way it promotes accommodation and generosity, with people often exhibiting spontaneous warmth towards others, including adversaries. However, this paradox is most evident in peace-making contexts, where conflicting parties display genuine amicable sentiments towards each other but show intransigence at the negotiation table.

This talk attempts to provide a tentative answer to the question as to why people keep fighting in Sudan.

Abdelwahab El-Affendi is the President and Provost of the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies. Between 2017 and 2020 he was Dean at the School of Social Sciences and Humanities at the Institute, and Head of the Politics and IR Program between 2015 and 2017. His main fields of research are: democracy and Islam, Islamic thought, Muslim Intellectuals, as well as Sudanese and Middle Eastern Politics, among others. El-Affendi was visiting fellow/professor at the Christian Michelsen Institute (Bergen, Norway, 1995 and 2003), and the Universities of Northwestern (Chicago, 2002), Oxford (1990), Cambridge (2010-2012), and the International Institute of Islamic Thought and Civilization (Malaysia, 2008). Among his recent publications are After the Arab revolutions. Decentering Democratic Transitions Theory (eds. With Khalil al Anani, Edinburgh University Press, 2021) and Genocidal nightmares. Narratives of insecurity and the logic of mass atrocities (ed., Bloomsbury, 2016).

Conference moderated by Rachid Aarab Aarab, Lecturer, Faculty of Political Science and Sociology, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. Co-organised with the Master’s Degree in International Relations, Security and Development, UAB within the framework of the Aula Mediterrània 2022-23 programme.

This conference takes place in English at the IEMed conference room, Girona, 20 – Barcelona. It can also be followed on IEMed Youtube Channel.



Abdelwahab El-Affendi

President and Provost Doha Institute for Graduate Studies

Rachid Aarab Aarab

Lecturer, Faculty of Political Science and Sociology Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

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