After Sudan: Hajj Hamad and the Search for the Horn of Africa

After Sudan: Hajj Hamad and the Search for the Horn of Africa

Sufi graves from the 17th century near the medieval city of Old Dongola (Photo: Matt Stirn; cropped).

A lecture with Alden Young (UCLA)

Friday, May 14, 2021
2:00 PM (Pacific Time)

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My talk focuses on the work of the Sudanese intellectual Mohammad Abu Qasim Hajj Hamad. He was one of the Children of 1964, who came of age in the October Revolution, which promised a democratic transformation, but he watched in horror as the military returned to power in 1969 and within a few years began exiling intellectuals and political activists. It was in exile that intellectuals like Hajj Hamad began looking for alternatives to the Sudanese state. In this talk, I will discuss his ideas about the Horn of Africa as a region. I will also discuss the ways in which he sought to place Sudan within the Greater Middle East in the process trying to rewrite Sudanese history. Hajj Hamad's historical project was an attempt to break Sudanese society out of the impasse within which it was trapped. According to Hajj Hamad, Sudan was a society stuck between binaries such as Arab and African, Communist and Islamist, as well as Center and Periphery. In his opinion, it was only by overcoming these binaries that Sudanese society could develop.

Alden Young is a political and economic historian of Africa and the Middle East. He is assistant professor of African American Studies and a faculty member in the International Development Studies program at the University of California, Los Angeles. His first book Transforming Sudan: Decolonization, Economic Development and State Formation was published by Cambridge University Press in December 2017. Along with Nathalie Puetz of NYU Abu Dhabi, Young has been awarded a research grant by the SSRC to work on climate change adaptation among the Red Sea littoral countries.

Sponsor(s): Center for Near Eastern Studies, African Studies Center, Department of African American Studies