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Durham e-Theses
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Courts, councils and citizenship: political culture in the Gezira scheme in condominium Sudan

Clarkson, Anna Ingerith (2005) Courts, councils and citizenship: political culture in the Gezira scheme in condominium Sudan. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



The Gezira Scheme of northern Sudan has been consistently portrayed as a totalising institution which imposed a distinctly new form of social and economic organisation upon a tenant body. This study reassesses the impact of the Gezira Scheme, suggesting that the changes brought by the Scheme were of degree rather than type, and did not disrupt the cultural values at the heart of society. It credits the Sudanese actors within the Scheme with an agency previously denied to them, and looks holistically at the region’s experience of governance. The Scheme is thus seen not as a controlling and oppressive institution, but rather as a tool used by a flexible and forward-looking society to improve personal circumstances. To these ends both the economic and administrative structures of central government were embraced and adapted to meet pre-existing cultural values whilst retaining the existing flexible forms of community authority. Tenants used a system created as a result of a flawed government imagination of Gezira society to pursue existing aspirations that had formerly been attainable only by a small wealthy elite. In this way, a tenant elite was created that defined itself economically and ethnically in relation to a majority non-tenant population. With devolutionary policies responding primarily to the needs of the Scheme, this economic dominance of tenants was reinforced by their political dominance of institutions of local governance. Experienced in mediating with central state structures, the tenants who controlled courts and councils were able to control their own experience of governance. Tenant elitism was ultimately revealed through the establishment of a self-identified interest group that was organised institutionally from the 1940s. Embracing both government and Scheme, tenants campaigned in defence of stated financial 'rights' based on a notion of elevated citizenship. However, the inability of all tenants to attain these universal aims split the tenant body and established a future pattern of instability within the Gezira Scheme.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Date:2005
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:09 Sep 2011 09:58

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