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Water, Civilisation and Power in Sudan
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Book description

In 1989, a secretive movement of Islamists allied itself to a military cabal to violently take power in Africa's biggest country. Sudan's revolutionary regime was built on four pillars - a new politics, economic liberalisation, an Islamic revival, and a U-turn in foreign relations - and mixed militant conservatism with social engineering: a vision of authoritarian modernisation. Water and agricultural policy have been central to this state-building project. Going beyond the conventional lenses of famine, 'water wars' or the oil resource curse, Harry Verhoeven links environmental factors, development, and political power. Based on years of unique access to the Islamists, generals, and business elites at the core of the Al-Ingaz Revolution, Verhoeven tells the story of one of Africa's most ambitious state-building projects in the modern era - and how its gamble to instrumentalise water and agriculture to consolidate power is linked to twenty-first-century globalisation, Islamist ideology, and intensifying geopolitics of the Nile.


'The Nile waters are central to the politics of north-east Africa, and Sudan is central to the hydropolitics of the Nile. Harry Verhoeven’s superb study reaches deep into the complex issues of water, religion, and political power that have shaped the Islamist regime in Khartoum and reveals both its ambitions and its looming failure.'

Christopher Clapham - Centre of African Studies, University of Cambridge

'Harry Verhoeven opens a new window on the Sudanese state and brings fresh air into our understanding of its politics. Drawing on interviews with many insiders, he illustrates the dilemmas faced by the current regime in promoting large-scale agriculture and dam construction. While claiming ‘modernization’ within the Islamic project, the program has benefited the core elite but marginalized others. Violence and widespread disaffection persisted even after the 2011 secession of South Sudan. This is an original and convincing study with wide relevance.'

Wendy James - Emeritus Professor, University of Oxford

'What a fascinating book Harry Verhoeven has written, which elucidates how the Al-Ingaz has combined water resource endowment with the civilization of the Nile Valley to consolidate power in Sudan in advancing its Islamic ideology. The author identifies the centrality of development agenda, than religion, in Al-Ingaz vision of an Islamic Sudanese state. What the author calls 'hydro-agricultural mission' is demonstrated, in my view, by the Merowe dam underpinning the Islamic ideology of Al-Ingaz. This is a must read book for those who would like to understand the resilience of an Islamic Project of Al-Ingaz in Sudan and beyond.'

Lual A. Deng - Member of South Sudan National Legislative Assembly and Managing Director of Ebony Center for Strategic Studies, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

'Professor Harry Verhoeven offers us an innovative, penetrating analysis of the Sudanese state and its Dam Implementation Unit. A must-read for scholars of the hydropolitics of the Nile.'

Dale Whittington - University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

'Harry Verhoeven has compiled a compelling study on Sudan that deserves the label 'seminal'. It is without question that his Water, Civilisation and Power in Sudan is an essential read for students of modern Sudan. It is therefore a highly recommended acquisition for any librarian with responsibility for African affairs.'

John Anthony Allan and Martin Keulertz Source: Sudans Studies Association Bulletin

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