This morning started as usual at the University of Bergen scanning the manuscripts of the collection that Sean O’Fahey donated to the University library. Scanning gives me time to read several texts during the process of the work, quite a lot of which are blog entries. Today, it was a nice coincidence that I read in the blog titled “Sudan: Analyzing the past and present of a failed state” an entry titled “Climate change: an invisible perpetrator?”
There, it is claimed that “perhaps the Sudanese conflict is the product of many geopolitical and economical factors, however climate change undoubtably plays a role in Sudan’s state failure.” And climate change is inevitably linked with world politics and economics, where the African states are experiencing the negative effect of other nations’ over-consumption, irresponsible waste handling, excessive gas emissions and so on. Either you sum it up to ‘global warming’ or you try to nuance it further, the problem of climate change in our world should be dealt with on a global level, and thus, consequently, the economic, political and social problems of any state that can be shown to have causes in the climate change become the responsibility of all nations… For the blogger of this very interesting post, “Sudan not only serves as an example of why the international community should be concerned about the effects of state failure, but it also gives the world a legitimate reason to care about global warming.”
Fair enough, I thought to myself. It is not the first time that I come across studies linking climate change and social problems; we have even written about such topics in this blog; and there have even been produced scholarly works that try to see the Darfur crisis through such lenses. These thoughts made me even more eager to attend the big Sudanological venue of this week at the University of Bergen: the book launch of “Sudan Divided“, a collection of papers on “Continuing Conflict in a Contested State” edited by Gunnar Sørbø and Abdel Ghaffar Ahmed.
The launch was hosted at the Resource Center, which unites Christian Michelsen’s Institute (CMI) with UiB Global and the the Center for Middle-Eastern and Islamic Studies (SMI) where I work. The book was freshly arrived and so we cannot comment upon its contents yet, but those who gathered at the Resource Center heard two very interesting presentations by the two editors.
During these talks and the subsequent discussion with the audience, not much was made of the topics of climate change. And it does not seem to be much thereof if one looks at the contents of the publication or the rich index in the end of the book. The focus of the edition was more worked through the filters of the academic disciplines that the editors serve, namely social anthropology and political sciences. I am not sure whether this ‘omission’ can be considered as a fault of the final product. The book hosts very important names of the fields aforementioned and has the great advantage of giving the floor mainly to Sudanese scholars (8 contributors out of 12 in total, a 9th being another African). But already from the presentations earlier this afternoon it became clear that both Sørbø and Abdel Ghaffar are outspoken as to the evils that make the continuing conflict in Sudan, in the contested states of the newly divided countries.
However deep the crisis in Sudan might be though, it became clear that solutions can be found; alias, there exist alternative scenarios and with careful work and manipulation the best (or the least evil?) will be chosen. The role of the international community; the decisions and power-play between central and peripheral elites in Sudan; the platforms of debate in the local communities; the best possible exploitation of the resources of the country for the environment and the people; the re-evaluation of the role of religion and ethnicity in Sudan; the calm reactions to threats or terror; all these are matters to be taken into account and which have been accounted for in the publication that will surely be a favorite reading in the coming weeks.
After such an intense day of debating matters Sudanese, it is perhaps natural to wish to have made it to the new venue organized in Paris by Claude Iverné, the Fench photographer with the deep knowledge of Sudan.
Claude Iverné has in fact accumulated incredible images from 15 years of work in Darfur. So, to compensate our absence from his venue we could spend some time enjoying his work HERE.
Or one could go further back in time, before Claude’s travels in Darfur, before even Darfur became what is known for today, and get views and opinions from the 60s and the 70s – when Gunnar and Randi Haaland traveled and worked in this magical place – by visiting their webpage Darfur Before.
More on that in the coming entry…