Negotiating the state at its margins: Colonial authority in Condominium Darfur, 1916-1956
My PhD is an account of political culture in colonial Darfur in western Sudan, under British rule from 1916-1956. My thesis focusses on the question of whether colonial rule had a truly transformative impact on African politics and society, or whether European interventions were subsumed by enduring African political and social dynamics. By examining the micro-politics of chieftaincy and border disputes, my work demonstrates the fragmented, personalised and often negotiated character of colonial rule at the local level. Rather than simply enforcing state authority, officials were often drawn into local political dynamics by the force of local initiative, particularly that exercised by their key clients: local chiefs. The thesis therefore provides evidence to support the view that states are formed in the heat of local disputes and contest, and that the colonial legacy in Darfur was the creation of a state torn between bureaucratic ‘modernity' and the imperatives of highly personalised, patron-client politics.
'Reinventing the wheel? Local government and neo-traditional authority in late colonial northern Sudan'. International Journal of African Historical Studies, 43 (2010), 255-278.
Organised and gained funding for ABORNE (African Borderlands Research Network) international workshop, ‘Sudanese Borders and Boundaries', Durham University, April 2011, involving African and European academic and policy participants.