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[Mar 13] “Watching a Nation State Fall Apart.”Reflections on the situation in Sudan and our understanding of the concept “sovereignty”

Updated: Mar 8


Date: March 13, 2024 (Wednesday)

Time: 6:30pm

Venue: CPD-2.45, 2/F., Centennial Campus, HKU

Speaker: Professor Leif Manger, Professor Emeritus, Department of Social Anthropology, University of Bergen


What dominates the news from Sudan these days is all about the Sudanese Army and the Rapid Support Forces, in the media represented by the leaders Burhan and Himedti, fighting it out, destroying Khartoum in the process, and pretty much the entire Sudan as well. Hence, one issue now is to what extent Sudan will remain a nation state. If seen from a perfect normative definition of a nation state, as a state being sovereign within a territory, it has been a long time since Sudan has qualified for that. The most dramatic example being the secession of South Sudan in 2011.  It rather looks like an assumption that the international community is promoting. And in the present circumstances this mantra is repeated, that if Sudan collapses as a nation state the conflict can spread to the neighboring countries. In this talk I want to place the conflict in Sudan in a wider historical and contemporary context in which we can see how Sudan always has had different areas ruled in different ways, thus also leading me to a focus on important weaknesses of the concept of sovereignty. This discussion will lead me to consider alternative understandings of the unfolding crisis in the Sudan, but might also point towards an understanding of wider global tensions in the contemporary world.

All are welcome. No registration is required.

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