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Development and Cultural Genocide in the Sudan

  • John W. Burton (a1)


Genocide is easily defined: ‘the deliberate extermination of a people’. It appears to occur in human history primarily in association with the emergence of the state, or in the effort of an established régime to maintain or expand its domination, and is virtually unrecorded for ‘traditional’ or pre-state societies. Although the concept of ‘development’ is by contrast exceedingly ambiguous (other than as an ideal process or social form in an evolutionary typology), the meaning conveyed would be antithetical to the definition of genocide, being some form of material or moral improvement in social existence, rather than a means towards the rapid extinction of a cultural tradition.



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1 This is a revised version of the paper presented to the annual meeting of the African Studies Association in Baltimore, Maryland, November 1990.

2 See, especially, Wolf, Eric, Europe and the People Without History (New York, 1982), chs. 1–2.

3 See Burton, John W., ‘The Pastoral Nilotes and British Colonialism’, in Ethnohistory (Tucson, AZ), 28, 1981, pp. 125–33,Christians, Colonists, and Conversion: a view from the Nilotic Sudan’, in The Journal of Modern African Studies (Cambridge), 23, 2, 06 1985, pp. 349–69, and ‘When North Winds Blow: a note on small towns and social transformation in the Nilotic Sudan’, in African Studies Review (Los Angeles), 31, 1988, pp. 4960.

4 See Burton, ‘Christians, Colonists, and Conversion’.

5 Johnson, Douglas, The Southern Sudan (London, The Minority Rights Group, 1988), Report No. 78.

6 See Jonglei Investigation Team, The Equatorial Nile Project and its Effects in the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan, Vols. I–IV (Khartoum, 1954).

7 Howell, Paul, Lock, Michael, and Cobb, Stephen (eds.), The Jonglei Canal: impact and opportunity (Cambridge, 1988), p. 56.

8 Ibid. p. 464.

9 Johnson, , op. cit. p. 8.

10 Bonner, Raymond, ‘A Reporter at Large: famine’, in The New Yorker, 13 March 1989, p. 85.

11 Johnson, , op. cit. p. 10.

12 Bonner, , loc. cit. p. 87.

13 Ibid. p. 89.

14 Ryle, John, ‘The Road to Abyei’, in Granta (Cambridge), 26, 1989, p. 43.

15 Ibid. p. 92.

16 Africa Report (New York), 06 1991. See also Kinnock, Glenys, ‘Nation on a Knife Edge’, in The Times (London), 20 07 1991, who is reported as saying that ‘the world must maintain a sense of outrage at the ravages affecting’ the Sudanese.

17 Johnson, , op. cit. p. 9.

18 The New York Times, 4 November 1990.

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Development and Cultural Genocide in the Sudan

  • John W. Burton (a1)


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