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The Making of a Fragmented Nation: sufi ṭuruq and Sudan’s Decolonization

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This article focuses on the role of sufi ṭuruq during Sudan’s struggle for independence from the Anglo-Egyptian Condominium. The decolonization of Sudan unfolded within a fragmentary political landscape characterized by a complex stratification of interests. The role of ṭarīqah-inspired political factions—later evolving into full-fledged parties—contributed to inhibit the birth of a cohesive nationalist movement, giving way to the emergence of a sectarian political system. As prominent members of the traditional establishment of Sudanese society (along with tribal leaders, merchants and other notables), Muslim leaders were afraid of the rising radical nationalist movement, that could have challenged recognized social hierarchies. Their interests converged with those of Great Britain, that since the early 1920s tried to foster the emergence of a moderate nationalist elite under the slogan al-Sūdān li-l-Sūdāniyyīn (“the Sudan for the Sudanese”) to counter Egypt’s influence in the country without subverting the structures of imperial dominance. In this sense, the decolonization of Sudan can be analysed as a “passive revolution”: a gradual regime transition that allowed the dominant classes to take over political power while preserving their fundamental interests.

Affiliations: 1: Università per Stranieri di Perugia


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