Material matters: Making and marking power in the Sudans

Hatfield College, Durham University
27-28 May 2015
This workshop aims to bring together scholars on eastern and north-eastern Africa to discuss new research into visual and material cultures in Sudan and South Sudan. With grand designs for a national museum and archive in South Sudan, and worldwide collections of Sudanese objects coming under greater scrutiny, many researchers are now interrogating modern and mobile objects of art and artifice, including photographs, polling cards, clothes and
This workshop will put these new strands of thought on Sudan in the broader intellectual context, inviting a cross-section of academics and practitioners working in diverse periods and disciplines, and aiming to encourage new
approaches to ideas of power and control.

Speakers include Sarah Longair and Nicholas Badcott of the British Museum, and papers include studies of Mahdist material culture, the politics of the jallabiya in post-colonial Sudan, the evolution of identification and state paperwork in South Sudan, and a “show and tell” panel of initial research on the Nzara Agricultural Scheme in South Sudan, The Vigilant newspaper, and photograph albums of South Sudanese ex-displaced women.

We warmly welcome students, postgraduate researchers and academics from all disciplines. The two days will include a tour of the designated special collection the Sudan Archives at Durham University, and a reception at the Oriental Museum. Student travel bursaries may be available on application, although we would be grateful if attendees would apply to their own institutions in the first instance.

10-11 Registration, tea and coffee
11-12:30 Power dressing
Pageantry and Politics: the Mahdist Jibba Considered Katie Hickerson, University of Pennsylvania / UCL
Hasan al-Turabi: The Jallabiyya and the Politics of Post-Colonial Manichaeaism Willow Berridge, Northampton University
12:30 Lunch
1:30-3 Marking out the state
The materiality of colonization – the evolution of identification in South Sudan Ferenc David Marko, Central European University
Documenting land in the early Condominium Tom Allen, Durham University
3 Tea break
3:30-4:30 Panel discussion: the ethics of objects
5:30 Tour and reception at the Oriental Museum
Thursday 28 May
9 Tea and coffee
9:30-10:30 Show and tell
Sarah Marriott TBC
Justin Willis The Vigilant newspaper
Nicki Kindersley Photograph albums of returned displaced Southern Sudanese women
10:30 Tea break
11-12:30 Mobile objects, mobile meanings
Shifting meanings and claims to authority: parallel stories of viti vya enzi from East Africa to London Sarah Longair, British Museum
A transfer of power: manipulating Mahdist material culture in late nineteenth century Britain Nick Badcott, British Museum
12:30-1:30 Lunch
1:30-2:30 Visit to the Sudan Archives special collection, with a display of Sudanese and South Sudanese artifacts.

This workshop has developed from the “New research on the new Sudans” seminar in November 2014, and is funded by Durham University’s Grey College and Hatfield College, as part of Durham’s Sudan Studies Programme. For further information, please contact Nicki Kindersley, the convenor, at


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