Colonial violence, Sultanic legacies and local politics, 1916-1956

Chris Vaughan


James Currey



The first in-depth account of Darfur's history during the Anglo-Egyptian Condominium (from 1916).

This work engages with a fundamental question in the study of African history and politics: to what extent did the colonial state re-define the character of local politics in the societies it governed? Existing scholarship on Darfur under the Anglo-Egyptian Condominium (1916-1956) has suggested that colonial governance here represented either straightforward continuity or utterly transformative change from the region's deep history of independent statehood under the Darfur Sultanate. This book argues that neither view is adequate: it shows that British rule bequeathed a culture of governance to Darfur which often rested on state coercion and violence, but which was also influenced by enduring local conceptions of the relationship between ruler and ruled, and the agendas of local actors.
The state was perceived as a resource as well as a threat by local peoples. Although the British did introduce significant changes to the character of governance in Darfur, local populations negotiated the significance of these innovations, challenging the authority of state-appointed chiefs, defying official attempts to police the boundaries of ethnic territories, and competing for the resources of political support and development that the state represented. Even the violence of the state was shaped and channelled by the initiative of local elites. Finally, the author suggests that contemporary conflict and politics in the region must be understood in the context of this deeper history of interaction between state and local agendas in shaping everyday realities of power and governance.

Chris Vaughan is Lecturer in African History at Liverpool John Moores University. Previously, he taught at the Universities of Durham, Leeds, Liverpool and Edinburgh. His articles have appeared in the Journal of African Historyand the Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History. He is co-editor (with Lotje De Vries and Mareike Schomerus) of The Borderlands of South Sudan.

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October 2015
1 line illustrations
246 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Eastern Africa Series
ISBN: 9781847011114
Format: Hardback
James Currey
BISAC HIS001020, POL045000, HIS037070
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Table of Contents

State Authority and Local Politics before 1916: The Darfur Sultans, Turco-Egyptian Rule and the Mahdiyya
Colonial Conquest and the Politics of Alliance in Darfur, 1916-1921
'Healthy Oppression'? Native Administration and State Violence in Western Darfur, 1917- 1945
Native Courts and Chieftaincy Disputes in Pastoralist Darfur, 1917-1937
Defining Territories, Policing Movement and the Limits of Legibility in Pastoralist Darfur, 1917-1950
Late Colonialism in Darfur: Local Government, Development and National Politics, 1937-1956
Conclusion: State Formation, Violence and Conflict in Historical Perspective


We have reason to thank Vaughan for 'filling in the blanks' by producing such a rich, thoughtful and satisfying monograph. THE JOURNAL OF IMPERIAL AND COMMONWEALTH HISTORY

Take[s] up the challenge of writing against the grain of state archives, hunting out Sudanese histories of political action and local theories of governance. JOURNAL OF COLONIALISM AND COLONIAL HISTORY

[An] important contribution to the scholarship on Sudanese history in particular and British imperial and African colonial history generally. Challenges the claim to peace and order that British colonial authorities in the Sudan repeated as their credo and mantra, and instead argues that the colonial state's promotion of violence was 'licensed'-meaning officially authorised. ENGLISH HISTORICAL REVIEW

Chris Vaughan provides an important case study of British rule in Darfur, in the western Sudan, showing how local populations "actually shape the way the state is manifested at a local level" (6). ... provides a significant refinement of current scholarship discussing "re-tribalization" policies in the colonial era. AMERICAN HISTORICAL REVIEW

Vaughan has provided an interesting analysis of power in those pre-independence times, how different groups made the most of the opportunities afforded to them, how colonial rules and regulations were often a mere overlay on local customs and traditions. The colourful anecdotes from colonial archives are the icing on the cake. AUSTRALASIAN REVIEW OF AFRICAN STUDIES

Offers a useful treatment of themes in the political history of Darfur from the sultanate to Sudanese independence and more specifically a distinctive well-defined thesis on the shaping of administrative policy and practice during the era of British rule ...The author has not written a social or cultural history but has argued for a broad characterization of continuing political relationships, and this is his contribution. IJAHS

This study contributes significantly to scholarship about the colonial state, using evidence derived from the historical experience of colonial Darfur (1916-56). AFRICAN STUDIES REVIEW

There are no pat answers here. More - and even more-detailed - scholarly attention to the history of individual tribes might make the future more predictable. In framing such studies, historians would have in Darfur an engaging and provocative place to start. SUDAN STUDIES

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