Art, Politics, & Cultural
Identification in Sudan
Aesthetica Upsaliensia No. 8

By Mohamed Abusabib
August 2004
Uppsala University Press
ISBN: 9155458874
236 pages, Illustrated, 6 " x 9 "
$52.50 Paper Original


It is now widely acknowledged that the issue of Sudan's cultural and political identity is one of the root causes of the Sudanese crisis that has crippled the country since its independence in 1956 and plunged it into a civil war regarded as the longest in Africa. Nevertheless, this issue continues to be a grossly neglected topic in scholarship concerning Sudan.

On the other hand, the politics of intellectual and artistic production have been inseparable from the pivotal issue of identity ever since the advent of Sudanese nationalism in the 1920s. But there has yet been no publication dedicated to the topic of identity as one of the major concerns in modern Sudanese artistic production. This study thus undertakes a critical examination of key discourses concerning the cultural basis of modern Sudanese literature, visual art, music, and dance, and it attempts to highlight their underlying political and ideological orientations.

The terms Arabism, Afro-Arabism, Africanism, Islamism, and Sudanism have developed within these discourses as defining concepts describing the country's ethnic and cultural origins, thereby serving as identity constructs. The study also examines the relation between the political and the artistic institutions as well as the policy of the "Islamization of the Arts" launched by the present Islamist regime and its outcome. The study may also be viewed as an endeavor to "discover" within the aesthetic field the missing "Sudanese" collective memory.

Stated otherwise, this is an effort to redeem the lost "Sudanese" pedigree that has long been deliberately mystified, misconceived, and misconstrued for the for the sake of certain political and cultural strategies. Another aim of the study is to introduce Sudanese arts and the specific Sudanese aesthetic/political debate concerning the topics of culture and identity to both the general reader and specialists as well as to Africanists in general and scholars of African arts and literature in particular.

African Studies; Art; Literature


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