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As Darfur continues to generate new books, it is easy to forget that debates about the nature of the violence in that province of western Sudan and the appropriate international response go back at least to These two books offer radically different critiques of the Western response to the violence since then.
The middle four chapters of Mamdani's book provide an account of Darfur's troubled history and place the origins of the present conflict in British colonial administrative policies that served to harden ethnic identities and cleavages. Relying mostly on secondary sources, these chapters break little new ground but provide a highly readable empirical introduction to a complex history.
The book's first couple of chapters and its conclusion, on the other hand, offer a highly polemic critique of the international media's coverage of the conflict and of calls by nongovernmental organizations NGOs , mostly U. Mamdani starts by asking, not unreasonably, why international public opinion has been mobilized more effectively by events in Darfur than by the considerably more murderous conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
He asserts that the main reason is that the media's portrayal of the violence in Darfur as being perpetrated by Arabs on Africans has resonated with Americans, given the Bush administration's "war on terror" and the war in Iraq.
This popular mobilization has been particularly useful to the U. He reserves his most provocative prose for an NGO most Americans are only vaguely aware of, the Save Darfur Coalition, which he accuses of facilitating the West's recolonization of Africa. Given the often harsh rhetoric he directs at different proposals to end the violence, the book is surprisingly thin on policy prescriptions, alluding only to the rather obvious need for democratic political reform in Sudan.
For Hagan and Rymond-Richmond, on the other hand, the available evidence from the field amounts to a compelling criminal case for genocide, and they support a considerably more forceful prosecution of the authorities in Khartoum through international legal channels than most.
Emphasizing legal issues, they advocate a criminological approach to such a prosecution, and their book constitutes a lawyer's brief arguing that in fact genocide has been taking place, providing chilling excerpts from interviews of victims.
The book focuses on the available evidence of the actual acts of violence and the volition behind them and is less interested in the sociological dynamics that might help contextualize the violence.
Saviors and Survivors: Darfur, Politics, and the War on Terror; Darfur and the Crime of Genocide
Violence is difficult to discuss in that it demands the contradictory tasks of bringing about moral repudiation and rational understanding. What lawyers called irrational, historians and anthropologists found, actually, quite rational. Most users should sign in with their email address. If you originally registered with a username please use that to sign in. To purchase short term access, please sign in to your Oxford Academic account above. Don't already have an Oxford Academic account?
Saviors and Survivors: Darfur, Politics, and the War on Terror
Since violence erupted six years ago in Darfur in western Sudan, an estimated , people have died and more than 2. Now, according to Mahmood Mamdani, we should add another group to the list: humanitarians who have led the campaign to end the violence. Mamdani is a Columbia University professor of political science and anthropology. In Saviors and Survivors he targets Save Darfur and similar western advocacy groups for their role in Sudan. Save Darfur is currently the largest US-based grassroots advocacy group focused on Darfur.