Sudanese panellists join discussion on Darfur

The University Colloquium on the Global South at York will hold a panel discussion on “Perspectives on the Recurring Crises in Sudan”, Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2:30-5pm, in the Senior Common Room, 305 Founders College.

darfur womanThis event, which will be chaired by Peter Penz of York’s Centre for Refugee Studies, will look at the current humanitarian crisis in Darfur and difficulties in concluding a negotiated peace settlement in the country’s southern region. Panellists include several Sudanese members of the York community and others with a special interest in the region. Regular colloquium participants should note the change of venue for this event, which is different than the regular UCGS events.

Left: Darfur woman and child

Sudanese-Canadian panel members include Gamal Adam, PhD candidate in the Graduate Program in Social Anthropology, who has recently returned from doing field work in Africa; Ibrahim Badr, professor in the Department of French Studies at York and formerly with the University of Khartoum in Sudan; and Jane Kani Edward, post-doctoral fellow, a native of southern Sudan who has studied women fleeing the conflict in that region.

Also taking part in the discussion are John Lewis, program coordinator, human rights, with Kairos: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives, and Robert Shenton, history professor at Queen’s University and author of numerous works on Africa. He is currently working on a study of communitarianism, civil society, and the state in Africa with Professor Pablo Idahosa, director of African studies.

Sudan is a large and very diverse country, straddling the divide between northern, Arab-speaking Africa and sub-Saharan Africa. Sudan has experienced civil war since independence in 1956, with the exception of an 11-year period between 1972 and 1983. Since independence most of the conflict in Sudan has been between various regimes in Khartoum, most recently Islamist, and various forces within southern Sudan seeking secession or greater autonomy, and with whom a tenuous peace agreement has recently been signed.

Although the conflict in Darfur has been simmering for some time, its current escalated form became evident after the conclusion of the peace settlement with the south, to the point of a humanitarian crisis that has attracted the attention of the world.

At least two, though not mutually exclusive, interpretations have been offered for these persistent conflicts and atrocities, and displacements and consequent famines. One is ethno-historical, which focuses on ethnic, even racial, and religious differences and historical slaving; the other explanation lies in political economy and focuses on the economic exploitation by elites of resources through the introduction of mechanized agriculture and the discovery and extraction of oil.

The purpose of this colloquium is to put the current Darfur crisis into such a broader context of the conditions and dynamics of identity and development in Sudan, its regional and international relations, and to ask questions about the status of, and possible reasons for, humanitarian intervention.

The Colloquium on the Global South is an open forum for debate and critical inquiry for students, faculty members, non-governmental organizations, social activists, and policy makers. Presented by the University Consortium on the Global South (UCGS) at York. The discussions are free and do not require pre-registration. For further information or to register for updates, check the UCGS Web site or contact Miguel González at, ext. 55237.