Saviors and Survivors

Darfur, Politics, and the War on Terror

By Mahmood Mamdani
(Pantheon Books, Hardcover, 9780307377234, 398pp.)

Publication Date: March 17, 2009

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Description

From the author of Good Muslim, Bad Muslim comes an important book, unlike any other, that looks at the crisis in Darfur within the context of the history of Sudan and examines the world’s response to that crisis.

In Saviors and Survivors, Mahmood Mamdani explains how the conflict in Darfur began as a civil war (1987—89) between nomadic and peasant tribes over fertile land in the south, triggered by a severe drought that had expanded the Sahara Desert by more than sixty miles in forty years; how British colonial officials had artificially tribalized Darfur, dividing its population into “native” and “settler” tribes and creating homelands for the former at the expense of the latter; how the war intensified in the 1990s when the Sudanese government tried unsuccessfully to address the problem by creating homelands for tribes without any. The involvement of opposition parties gave rise in 2003 to two rebel movements, leading to a brutal insurgency and a horrific counterinsurgency–but not to genocide, as the West has declared.

Mamdani also explains how the Cold War exacerbated the twenty-year civil war in neighboring Chad, creating a confrontation between Libya’s Muammar al-Qaddafi (with Soviet support) and the Reagan administration (allied with France and Israel) that spilled over into Darfur and militarized the fighting. By 2003, the war involved national, regional, and global forces, including the powerful Western lobby, who now saw it as part of the War on Terror and called for a military invasion dressed up as “humanitarian intervention.”

Incisive and authoritative, Saviors and Survivors will radically alter our understanding of the crisis in Darfur.




About the Author
Mahmood Mamdani is Herbert Lehman Professor of Government and Director of the Institute of African Studies at Columbia University. He is the author of "Citizen and Subject: Contemporary Africa and the Legacy of Late Colonialism" (Princeton), which won the Herskovitz prize of the African Studies Association. Among his other books are "The Myth of Population Control, From Citizen to Refugee," and "Politics and Class Formation in Uganda." He is currently President of the Dakar-based Council for Development of Social Research in Africa (CODESRIA).
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