Arab Identity and Ideology in Sudan: The Politics of Language, Ethnicity, and Race

  • Citation: Sharkey, Heather J., “Arab Identity and Ideology in Sudan: The Politics of Language, Ethnicity, and Race.” African Affairs 107, Issue 426, 2008: 21–43.
    • Topics:
    • Country and Regional Studies
    • Keywords:
    • Sudan
    • Arab identity
    • language
    • race
    • blackness

Certain tenets are shared in North Africa that articulate Maghribi Mediterranean patterns of conceptualisation of power relations in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya — one Islam, one nation (al‐maghrib al‐’arabi), one culture, one language, and a silence. This culture of silence — the refusal to engage in discussions on slavery and racial attitudes — is the subject of this article. Internally, in the name of hegemony ‐Arab‐Islamic hegemony in North Africa — this issue is concealed and, externally, Mediterranean slavery has been largely ignored by historians. It should be noted that we find a similar silence along the northern shoreline of the Mediterranean. Jacques Heers, a specialist in European history wrote, in his study of slavery in medieval Europe, that this silence reflects an embarrassment felt collectively throughout the centuries. The North Africans must have felt a similar embarrassment in questioning interpretations of Islam and its ethics when confronting the matter of slavery.

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