CONTENTS OF VOL. 34, Nos. 2-3, 2009
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MUNZOUL A. M. ASSAL: “The Question Of Identity In The Sudan: New Dimensions For An Old Problem”
ABSTRACT: As the title of this article suggests, the question of identity is an old problem in the Sudan and represents a challenge that has not been settled hitherto. While debates about Sudan’s identity ostensibly started at the dawn of independence, focusing primarily, on the one hand, on whether the Sudan should unite with Egypt or not and, on the other, whether the Sudan should be part of Africa or the Arab world, the challenge is still enormous and difficult choices must be made if the quest is for a peaceful and united and united Sudan. Most of the discussions that followed independence pursued a political perspective that was mostly macro in perspective. The way the question of identity was tackled left too many issues that were swept under the rug of Arabism and Africanism. One dimension that was not given sufficient attention is how identity is played out at the bottom; how the Sudanese play out their identities at micro levels, and how the deterioration in economic and political conditions in the country contribute to divisive identifications exemplified by what we saw during the civil war in the south and in Darfur at the present time. The way the question of identity was discussed seemed to be an elite affair, bearing little attention to what really matters to people. It is the disregard of what matters to people that underlies the current crisis that is tearing the country apart. A new dimension of identity politics is in the making in the Sudan. This is represented by multiple peripheral insurgencies that employ macro political rhetoric in making claims about marginalization and absence of equity. The new dimension is also represented by the devolution of crisis to the most micro levels of Sudanese society. It is argued in this article that the problem of identity in the Sudan is basically one of lack of justice more than a question of whether the country is Arab, African or something else. In putting this argument forward, the article provides a critical overview of positions that debate the question of identity in the Sudan. The paper emphasizes the contextuality of identification, from an anthropological perspective, and links this to resource use and identification, from an anthropological perspective, and links this to resource use and access. It is suggested that unity in diversity or critical multiculturalism could be a workable modality if the objective is to surpass the riddle of identity conflict in the Sudan.
BYRON D. CANNON: “West Africa Shea/Karité Butter: Co-Dependency Between Village Tradition And The Export Market”
ABSTRACT: Not only the general public, but possibly even specialists of West Africa seem unfamiliar with the long history of the shea, or karaté tree and its importance for local villagers of former French West Africa, as well as the former Gold Coast and Togo. Shea butter is now widely recognized as a cosmetic and pharmaceutical commodity all over the world. This article traces traditional African use of locally processed Shea butter and nineteenth and twentieth century stages of commercialization of same, both in West Africa and as a valuable export commodity.
JOHN FISHER: “British Consular Representation In Morocco, 1912-1924: ‘A Question Of Pounds, Shillings And Pence’ ”
ABSTRACT: During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries debates occurred about the fitness for purpose of Britain’s Consular Service. Simultaneously, the scope of its work came under fresh scrutiny. In particular, the role of the consul in promoting commerce was debated. This article presents a case study of the Consular Service in Morocco at a formative time in the country’s history. It examines the difficulties experienced by consular officers when executing their duties and considers to what extent these problems were attributable to the neglect of the service in Morocco by the Home Government in London. Furthermore, it investigates various solutions which were proposed to remedy its perceived shortcomings. It concludes that in view of difficult post-war conditions, these remedies did not fundamentally address various problems within the service in Morocco and elsewhere. This was also symptomatic of the decreasing importance attached to Morocco in diplomatic and strategic terms by successive British governments.
MUHAMMAD TUKUR USMAN: “Maghreb Influence On The Arabic Literary Tradition Of Northern Nigeria”
ABSTRACT: The intellectual influence of the Maghreb on the region known to the Arabs as the bilad al-Sudan was responsible for the development of a literary tradition derived from some aspects of Arabic language. The Muslim empires that existed in the northern area of what became modern Nigeria also received much intellectual inspiration from the Maghreb, which allowed for the nurturing a rich intellectual tradition built on intensive literary activity, the legacy for which has survived to the present time.
MICHAEL B. BISHKU: “Turkey’s Maghreb Connection: Its Relationship With Libya”
ABSTRACT: For the most part, Turkey’s relations with Libya – both during the rule of King Idris I (1951-69) or later under Muammar Qadhafi, who was inspired by the Arab nationalism of Egypt’s president, Gamal Abd al-Nasser, to overthrow the monarchy – have been different in character from its ties with other countries of the Maghreb. Libya was part of the Ottoman empire until Italy defeated it in a war in 1911-12 and subsequently conquered the territory. In 1943, during the second world war, the British and French captured Libya from the Italians and jointly administered it for the next eight years. Since Libya’s independence in December 1951, the relationship between Turkey and Libya has been shaped and affected by both the politics of the cold war and/or the Arab world and the economics of oil, technical expertise and manpower. It is far more complex than relations with energy-rich Algeria or with Morocco and Tunisia, countries with pro-Western political orientations and moderate positions regarding Israel and, in the case of the latter, one of the most secular regimes in the Arab world. Both Turkey’s a NATO member and the oil-rich and sparsely-populated former ‘rogue state’ of Libya developed beneficial ties during the 1970s and early 1980s. These relations suffered greatly during the late 1980s and throughout the 1990s with the development of closer Turkish-Israeli ties following the Oslo Accords between Israel and the Palestinians, lower oil prices, United Nations’ sanctions against Libya and Turkey’s actions against the Kurdish insurrection. In recent years, these relations have been revived as Libya has given up its WMD programme and paid restitution to victims of its earlier state-sponsored terrorism, while Turkey has sought to enhance its political role in the Middle East and to meet adequately its energy needs.