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Modernity and the Making of Identity in Sudan: Remembering the Sixties and Seventies

Sharjah Art Foundation and the Institute for Comparative Modernities, Cornell University, are organizing the conference Modernity and the Making of Identity in Sudan: Remembering the Sixties and Seventies.

Planned ahead of a major exhibition on Sudanese modern and contemporary art titled The Khartoum School: the Making of the Modern Art Movement in Sudan scheduled for November 2016, the conference is coordinated by Sharjah Art Foundation President and Director Hoor Al Qasimi and Salah M Hassan, Goldwin Smith Professor of African and African Diaspora Art History and Visual Culture in the Africana Studies and Research Centre, and in the Department of History of Art and Visual Studies, Cornell University. Funded by the Sharjah Art Foundation, the conference will provide participants and attendees an opportunity to visit Sharjah Biennial 12: The past, the present, the possible which opened on March 5, 2015, and will be on view until June 5, 2015.

The three-day gathering will begin the afternoon of April 10, 2015 and end the evening of April 12, 2015, with the expectation that new and original papers will be presented by a group of invited participants who include scholars, literary and art critics, filmmakers, poets, playwrights, novelists and artists. The conference will offer a platform for these participants to document and provide a critical understanding of the making of modernity in Sudan and the enduring debate on identity in Sudanese cultural and political history. It is hoped that this event will enable an investigation of the modernist movement in Sudan from historical, socio-cultural, literary, and artistic perspectives.

The conference will focus on a pivotal moment in Sudan – the 1960s and 1970s – which witnessed the rise of several modernist movements that radically transformed the literary and artistic scenes. This period also witnessed extremely dynamic and creative activities in all fields of cultural and artistic production – from literature, music, and theatre to visual and performing arts. The most influential among these movements were The Khartoum School (Madrasat al Khartoum) in the visual arts and the School of the Bush and the Desert (Madrasat al Ghaba wa al Sahra’) in literature, a movement which also influenced the work of several artists of the Khartoum School who will be included in the upcoming exhibition.

In addition, the question of the identity of Sudan has been central to the debate on modernity, considering what the late Professor Ali Mazrui had called the ‘multiple marginality’ of Sudan – a diverse nation that exists on the cross-roads of Africa and the Arab/Islamic worlds, and yet marginal to both.

Despite the importance of the 1960s and 1970s in shaping modernity and the question of identity in Sudan, the scholarship on such an important period remains scarce. With the exception of a few published books, articles, and memoirs, the subject remains largely unaddressed in the academic or literary circles of Sudanese studies. This makes the conference and the expected publication of its proceedings most urgent and very timely.

Modernity and the Making of Identity in Sudan: Remembering the Sixties and Seventies represents an effort to bring together some of the major figures who have shaped the literary and artistic scenes of the 1960s and 1970s with younger generations of scholars, artists, and literary and art critics, while providing a platform for documentation and critical investigation of this important period. The subsequent publication will include essays by participants from wide-ranging backgrounds. A comprehensive introduction will provide the historical background and critical reading of the modernist movements and the making of identity in Sudan. The book will also contain reprints of major documents and archival material related to these movements, including foundational essays, manifestos and poems from the 1960s and 1970s.

For a full list of participants, please see our Participants page 

Modernity and the Making of Identity in Sudan: Remembering the Sixties and Seventies is organized by Sharjah Art Foundation and the Institute for Comparative Modernities, Cornell University.


All SAF events are free and open to the public.


Salah Hassan Abdalla is an art critic and a visual artist who graduated from the printmaking department of Khartoum College of Fine and Applied Arts in 1975. His art works were featured in two solo exhibitions at the British Council, Omdurman, and the Hilton Hotel, Khartoum. He also participated in many collective exhibitions within Sudan and abroad. Salah is the author of Contributions to Plastic Art (2005), Plastic Art Issues (forthcoming), An Artistic Transparency toward Political Bodies (forthcoming), The Impact of Linguistics in Art and Literary Criticism (co-edited. with M.A. Hassan), and Contemporary Plastic Art in Sudan (forthcoming).

Wagdi Kamil Salih studied film at the Institute of Cinematography of the Soviet Union in Moscow from 1980 to 1986, and earned his Ph.D. from the same Institute in 1993. He worked as an assistant professor at the University of Khartoum from 2001-2010. Wagdi authored two books on cinematography in African cinema, Aesthetics of African Cinema (Cultural Complex, Abu Dhabi, 2000) and Sembene: An African Filmmaker and Novelist (Cultural Complex, Abu Dhabi, 1999). He translated a book from Russian, titled Photography and Cinema in Contemporary Cultural System (Ministry of Information and Culture, 1999). Wagdi has made more than twenty documentary films, and received awards including a prize for his short The Children of the Sun (Tashkent, 1986), the Golden Prize for Documentary TV Films for Africa for Scorpion (Nairobi, 2004), and the Golden Prize for Arab Documentary Films at the Arab Media Festival in Cairo for Swing and Oil (2006). He currently works for the Aljazeera Media Network in the Arabic channel as a producer in the Department of Programs.

Rogaia M. Abusharaf is associate professor of Anthropology at the Georgetown University Edmund Walsh School of Foreign Service, Qatar Campus. She is the author of Wanderings (Cornell UP), Transforming Displaced Women (U. of Chicago Press), Female Circumcision (U. Penn Press) and a guest editor of special issue of SAQ entitled What is Left of the Left? She is the editor of HAWWA: Journal of Women of the Middle East and the Islamic World (Brill Journals). Abusharaf teaches political anthropology, culture and politics, British Social Anthropology and Human rights. Her ethnographic work includes Sudan, the US, UK, and the Arabian Gulf. Her most recent co-edited book, Gulf Africa Politics: Old Boundaries, New Frontiers, co-edited with Dale Eickelman, is appearing in Gerlach Press in Berlin. Abusharaf is a recipient of several fellowships and grants from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Andrew Mellon-MIT, Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio, Sir William Luce Fellowship, the Royal Anthropological Institute of UK and Northern Ireland and the John Sloan Dickey Center for International Understanding and the department of Anthropology both at Dartmouth College.

Ahmed Ibrahim Abushouk is Professor of Modern and Contemporary History, Department of Humanities, Qatar University. He received his Ph.D. in History at Bergen University (Norway) in 1998. Started his academic career as an Assistant Professor at the Centre for Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies, Bergen University; and a Research Fellow and Visiting Professor at various institutes, including the International Institute for Asian Studies, University of Leiden, the Netherlands; the Institute of Theology, University of Lund, Sweden; the Centre for Modern Oriental Studies, Berlin-Germany; and Qatar University. He joined the Department of History and Civilization, International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM), in 1999, and became the head of the Department in 2004, and the Deputy Dean for Research and Postgraduates, the College of Islamic Revealed Knowledge and Human Sciences, (IIUM) in 2007; and the Director of the International Institute for Muslim Unity (2010-1212). His focus of interest is on modern and contemporary history of the Middle East and Southeast Asia. His latest publications include The Sudan National Elections 2010: A Study of their Introductions and Results, AlJazeerah Centre for Studies, 2012; The Hadrami Diaspora in Southeast Asian: Identity Maintenance or Assimilation? (ed. with Hassan Ahmed Ibrahim) Leiden: E.J. Brill, 2009; The Complete Works of al-Manar Magazine in Southeast Asia, (ed.), 2 volumes, Kuala Lumpur: Research Centre of IIUM, 2006; and Sudan: Power and Heritage, 5 volumes, Omdurman: Abdel Karim Mirhgani Cultural Centre, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2015.

Talal Afifi is a film curator, creative producer, and director of Sudan Film Factory, an initiative that has been working for five years in empowering and building youth capacities in the field of documentation, filmmaking, and freedom of expression. A human rights activist, Afifi has managed the production of a variety of documentaries and short films between 2010-2014, in addition to supervising filmmaking workshops and training in Sudan. Afifi is interested in further developing the independent filmmaking industry and supporting new modes of documentary production and presentation. In 2011, he was chosen to serve on the jury of the Film Festival of Oran, Algeria. In 2014, he initiated and started Sudan Independent Film Festival in Khartoum.

Nahid Mohammed Al Hassan is a well-known psychiatrist who earned her M.B.B.S. from Gezira University and her M.D. in psychiatry. She is an assistant professor at the University of Medical Science and Technology, where she is the chair of the psychiatry department. She is also the founder and director of alternatives to corporal punishment programs at the Child Rights Institute, and has conducted workshops on related issues in Sudan and abroad. She writes extensively on positive discipline for children, Sudanese culture and identity, and women in Sudanese Islamic thought.

Arwa Alrabeea is a cultural and social activist and music critic who writes for daily newspapers and takes part in various TV and radio programs. She has a B.A. in Law from Cairo University (Khartoum Branch), a B.A. from the Institute of Music and Drama, and an M.A. in Music from Sudan University of Technology. She was a practicing lawyer until 2004, and a lecturer in music and cultural studies at al-Ahfad and al-Taqana Universities until 2006. Arwa was the administrative manager for al-Khatim Adlan Center for Enlightenment and Human Development, and currently works for Tracks Training and Human Development Center in Khartoum as administrative manager.

Yousif Aydabi is a playwright, poet and literary and cultural critic, and a leading figure in movement of Arab and African theater. Aydabi is one of the founders of the Bush and the Desert School in Sudan, which has made original contribution in literature and the arts and represented an important effort towards carving out a national identity for the post-independence Sudan. He is also the founder of the Pan-Sudanese Theater (Masrah li ‘Umum Ahl Al Sudan), in pursuit of cultural pluralism and diversity in Sudan. He authored, co-authored and edited numerous plays and critical essays on theater, cinema and literature. Dr. Aydabi received his Ph.D. in the history and theory of theater from University of Bucharest, Romania, and taught at several universities and colleges in Sudan and Romania. He served as Dean of the Institute of Music and Drama in Khartoum, and as Director of the Folklore and Cultural Heritage, Khartoum North, before moving to Sharjah in the early 1980s. He was one of the founders of the Sharjah Biennial. Aydabi currently serves as the Cultural Advisor at Sheikh Sultan Al Qasimi’s Center for Gulf Studies, Sharjah, UAE.

Alfatih Eltahir Diab is a music scholar, author, researcher and critic who has made a tremendous contribution to the development of music as a science in Sudan. He obtained a Ph.D. from the Moscow Conservatory for his thesis, ”The Sudanese Music Culture in the 20th Century”, and another Ph.D. in music education from the Leningrad Institute of Culture. He taught music at the Higher Institute of Music and Drama, Khartoum between 1973 and 2005, and served as Dean of the College of Music and Drama (2002-2005). Alfatih orchestrated dozens of musical and lyrical works and authored. His research paper on Sudanese folklore, presented at the 27th Traditional Music Conference in New York in 1983, highlighted cultural diversity in Sudan. That paper claims that the birth of the so called “Haqeebat alfan”- the most prolific era in the history of modern Sudan’s music and lyrics, was a legitimate child of cultural interaction of the various tribes that settled down in Omdurman following the Mahdist Revolution. He authored scores of other research papers and books on a variety of music and culture topics.

Rashid Diab is an artist and art critic. He studied at the Khartoum College of Fine and Applied Arts, graduating with a BFA in Painting in 1978. Diab traveled to Spain to pursue postgraduate studies on a scholarship from the Complutense University in Madrid, in 1982, and obtained two Master’s degrees in painting and one in etching and graphics, and eventually a doctoral degree in philosophy of painting. After completing his doctorate in 1991, Diab taught at the faculty of fine art at Complutense University until 2000, when he decided to return to the Sudan, determined to start two spaces for art exhibitions and display: Dara Art Gallery was founded in 2000 and the Rashid Diab Arts Center in 2005. Throughout his time in Madrid and Khartoum, Diab continues to work and exhibit his work at numerous exhibitions around the world. He is also an art critic and has published various papers on African and Arab art and has been awarded numerous prizes and honors, including the Cross of the Order of Civil Merit from King Juan Carlos I of Spain in 2013. His work is included in several private and public collections including Mathaf in Doha, The National Gallery of Jordan, among others.

Shawgi Izzeldin Elamin is a stage director, performer and actor. He was one of the founders of the University Theater Group, which has contributed significantly to the development of theater in Sudan in the late 1960s and early 70s. During that period, he directed and acted in scores of plays both in and off campus, including plays by Shakespeare, Friedrich Dürrenmatt, and Molière. Shawgi graduated from Khartoum University with a B.A. in English language (1971) and obtained a Diploma in French in 1978. Having worked as high school English in Sudan for five years, he moved to the Sultanate of Oman, where he worked as director of studies and translation at the Polyglot Institute (1980-1995), Senior Lecturer (English Language) & Translator Career Development Foundation of Oman (1995-1997), and Language Officer at the International College of Engineering & Management, Muscat (1997-present).

Essam Abu El Gaseem is a literary critic and journalist who graduated from the Institute of Music and Drama, Sudan University of Science and Technology. Essam is the founder of the Criticism Forum at the Institute and a founding member of the Arab Society of Theater Critics. He is the editor of The Theater, a periodical published by Sharjah Department of Culture, and a contributing cultural editor for the Abu Dhabi-based Al-Etihad Daily. Essam authored and co-authored several articles on theater, fiction and art, many of which were published in Sudanese and Arab newspapers. He participated in theater festivals and events in Damascus, Carthage, Cairo, Beirut, Sharjah, Amman, Algiers, Fas, and Khartoum.

Alaeldin Elgizouli studied fine and applied art at College of Fine and Applied Arts in Khartoum as well as drawing and painting at the Moscow State Academic Art Institute in the former Soviet Union. He taught at the University of Khartoum, Sebha University and Derna University in Libya, and the Khartoum College of Applied Studies, and currently teaches at Ahfad University for Women. He has been featured in group and individual exhibitions all over the world, including Tokyo, Havana, Cairo, Khartoum, Tripoli, and Moscow. He is the author of numerous articles on art, culture, and visual criticism; two novels and a collection of short stories; and several children’s books.

Kamal Elgizouli is a lawyer, poet, literary critic, journalist, and human- rights activist. He studied law and international relations at Kiev State University in the former Soviet Union. Kamal’s publications include three major collections of poetry, including the critically acclaimed Omdurman Comes on the Eight O’clock Train. He has published six other books and hundreds of articles on diverse topics ranging from culture and politics, literature and literary criticism, to issues of peace, democracy, civil war, and human rights. Several of his publications focus on the problems of marginalization, and ethnic and cultural diversity in Sudan. El Gizouli is a founding member of the Sudanese Writers’ Union and served as its Secretary-General until 2007. He is an honorary member of PEN International. As a human-rights activist, he is a founding member of The Sudanese Organization for Human Rights and The Sudanese Monitor for Human Rights, the coordinator of the Movement for the Freedom of Conscience, and a member of the Board of Trustees and Directors of the Sudanese Centre for Legal Studies. He also serves as a consultant for the Cairo Institute for Human Rights’ Studies.

Eiman Abbas H. El-Nour is Associate Professor of English Literature at Neelain University and Ahfad University, and Teaching Fellow at Khartoum University. She specialises in teaching African Literature and her main research themes include Sudanese literature and Sudanese orality. She is author of Hadha Huwa al-Makan: Fi Tadhakkur al-Tayyib Salih (2010) (This is the Place: Remembering Tayeb Salih).

Elias Fath Elrahman is a well-known poet, literary critic, and publisher who have been active in the cultural scene for the last three decades. He is the owner of Madarek Publishing House in Khartoum, Sudan and Cairo, Egypt, which has published a seminal body of work in literature, history, and cultural studies. He is also known as a journalist and a literary critic who has edited the cultural pages of several newspapers including the Khartoum based daily Al-Ayam, and has been influential in coverage and documentation of the literary activities in Sudan specially during the 1970s and 1980s. Elias Fath Elrahman is also a gifted poet who has published several books of influential poetry including The Voice of the Wanderer at the End of Night (saut al taif Akhir al layl) and No One Rescue the Horses (La Ahd Yus’if al Khayl).

Abdullahi A. Ibrahim received both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Khartoum and completed his Ph.D. at Indiana University. He taught at Khartoum University from 1987 to 1991. From 1991 to 1993 he was a fellow of the Institute for Advanced Study and Research in the African Humanities at the African Studies Program of Northwestern University. He joined the MU faculty in1994 and was promoted to Associate Professor in 2001.He teaches survey courses in African History and undergraduate seminars on colonial and postcolonial Africa, soccer and imperialism, culture and history, and Islam and the West.Straddling the fields of history, folklore, anthropology, literature, and politics, Ibrahim’s work is based on extensive fieldwork on oral traditions and other popular literary genres. He publishes in English and Arabic. His articles have been published in History in Africa, International Journal of African Historical Studies, International Journal of Middle East Studies, Sudan Notes and Records, African Studies Review, and Africa Today. He is the author of Assaulting with Words: Popular Discourse and the Bridle of Shari’ah (Islam) (1994). His forthcoming book, Manichaean Delirium: Decolonizing the Judiciary and Islamic Revival in Sudan, 1898-1985 (under review by Brill), critically examines the dual colonial judiciary of Sudan that has been at issue in the drive to Islamize the country. In Arabic he published The Mahdi-Ulama Conflict in Sudan (Khartoum 1968, Cairo 1994); Culture and Democracy in Sudan (Cairo 1996) and ten other titles. His Sharia and Modernity will be published in Cairo.

Ibrahim El Makki Ibrahim is a writer, book critic, translator, and political analyst. He earned his B.A. in law from the University of Khartoum and his M.A. in political science from the Sorbonne. He served as the Sudanese Ambassador to Pakistan, Czechoslovakia, and Congo, as well as a diplomat in Paris, Prague, Saudi Arabia, and Sudan’s Mission to the United Nations in New York. He also served as translator for the United Nation’s arms inspectors in New York and Iraq. He was a political analyst with the Embassy of Qatar in Washington, D.C. and an assistant professor at the Defense Language Institute. He has numerous publications, including four books of verse, a collection of satirical essays, and hundreds of articles published in the Arab media.

Suleiman Mohammed Ibrahim
is a filmmaker and producer based in Khartoum, Sudan. He studied film at the prestigious Moscow’s High Institute of Cinema, and graduated in 1979 with degree in film direction and production. He produced several documentary films for national television, and other institutions in Sudan. His film The Earth Moves won the gold medal in the Moscow Film Festival in 1979. Suleiman is a founding and senior member of the Sudan Film Group which aims at promoting cinema in Sudan since 1989.

Kamala Ibrahim Ishag is one of the leading artists and pioneer modernist painters in Sudan. She has been influential as a teacher to a generation of younger Sudanese artists, and a leader of an important conceptual art movement known as a the Crystalist School, which she co-founded along with three of her former students including Mohammad Hamid Shaddad and Nayla El Tayeb among others. She is also among the pioneer Arab and African women artists who has been exhibited and collected in several international museum and represented in several private and public collections. Kamala graduated from the College of Fine & Applied Art, Khartoum in1963. She later studied at the London Royal College of Art focusing on Mural Painting between 1964-66. She return to Sudan and served as a lecturer and head of painting department at the College of Fine and Art, Khartoum for many years. in early 1990s she left Sudan and lived between London (UK) and Muscat (Sultanate of Oman) until her return to Sudan few years ago. She is known for residency at the Sudan National Museum in the 1970s where she executed entrance mural of the museum in collaboration with the Sudanese artist Musa Elkhalifa. She currently lives and works in Burry neighborhood in Khartoum. Kamala participated in several exhibitions including a major exhibition of Arab artists in Cairo, Egypt in 1970, and had many solo exhibitions in Khartoum from 1964 to 1974. She participated in the well-known exhibitions African contemporary Art, London in 1970, and Contemporary Art by Women Artists from the Arab World at the National Museum of Women in Art, in Washington DC, in 1994. She also participated in Arab Eyes: Women Artists from Arab Countries, in Sharjah Art Museum, Sharjah, UAE in 1995, and Seven stories about Modern Art in Africa at the White Chapel Gallery, London in1995. Most recently she had several shows including a recent one at the French Cultural Center in Khartoum, Sudan.

Stella Gaitano is a writer of fiction from South Sudan. She was born in Khartoum and was schooled there until she graduated as a pharmacist in 2006 at the University of Khartoum. After secession of the south, Gaitano moved to her new home country where she engaged with other intellectuals toward building their burgeoning state. Her first collection of short stories, Withered Flowers, was published in 2004 by Azza Publishing house, Khartoum. A story from that collection,“It’s Boiling All Around", won an award at a competition organized by the French Cultural Center in Khartoum in conjunction of Al Ayam Newspaper (2001 & 2004) along with “A Lake the Size of a Papaya". Her second anthology of short stories was published recently in Juba by Rafiki Publishing House. Most of the stories in this collection, entitled “Back Home”, reflect on life in the now independent South Sudan, following secession from the North. Gaitano is currently working on a third anthology of short stories as well as her first novel. Her short stories collections will appear in English translation soon.

Abdullahi Gallab is a professor of Professor of African and African American Studies, Arizona State University, Tempe, U.S.A. He studied at the University of Khartoum, Boston University, and Brigham Young University where he received his Ph.D. in sociology of religion. Gallab brings to his research and teaching the unique perspectives of a scholar and a former journalist practicing in Sudan, Lebanon, and UK. His publications include his books The First Islamist Republic: Development and Disintegration of Islamism in the Sudan, (Ashgate 2008 and, A Civil Society Deferred: The Tertiary Grip of Violence in the Sudan, (University Press of Florida, 2011) and reprinted in 2013, and most recently Their Second Republic: Islamism in the Sudan from Disintegration to Oblivion, (Ashgate in 2014), a continuation of the study of Islamism in power in the Sudan. Gallab is an active member of the Sudan Studies Association (SSA) of North American, and former editor and current publisher of the organization's Bulletin, and served as it the president of the organization for 2013-2015. Gallab also serves as co-chair of Islamic Studies for the American Academy of Religion (AAR) Western Region, and is a board member for the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion.

Elnour Hamad
is a researcher at the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies, where he is also the head of the Arabic editing section, the academic supervisor of the website and the managing director of Siyasat Arabia, a peer-reviewed bi-monthly political periodical published by the Center. Hamad holds a PhD in Art Education from the University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign), a Master’s of Art Education from Miami University in Ohio, and a Diploma in Fine Arts from the College of Fine and Applied Art in Sudan. He taught at East Washington University and Mansfield University in the US, and chaired the Department of Art Education at Qatar University. Hamad has published over 100 articles in the Sudanese and Pan-Arab media on issues of culture and politics. He has also published a number of studies in peer-reviewed academic periodicals and edited books in education and politics. An active member of a number of academic and cultural associations, Hamad’s research interests encompass the critique of the modernist paradigm and postmodern thought as well as emerging trends of spirituality that coincide with Islamic Sufism. His interests also include the cultural and political specificities of Sudan, Sudanese identity, and the cultural and political issues of the Horn of Africa and its ties to the Arab world.

Mansour Khalid
is former Sudan Minister of Foreign Affairs, and councilor and advisor to the late John Garang, the founder and leader of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A), and currently a member of the Political Bureau of Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM). He has also served as Sudan’s Minister of Youth and Culture and Minister of Education. As a foreign minister during former Numeiri’s regime, Khalid negotiated the first peace agreement that ended the North–South civil war in 1972. He is also the author of several books including: The Government They Deserve (Taylor and Francis, 1986), Numeiri and theRevolution of Dis-May (1984) and War and Peace in Sudan: A Tale of Two Countries (2003). His most recent book The Paradox of Two Sudans: The CPA and the Road to Partition, is forthcoming from Africa World Press, USA in April 2015.

Eltayeb Mahdi
is an award-winning filmmaker who graduated from Cairo’s High Institute of Cinema in 1976. He produced scores of films including such as al-Dhareeh (the shrine), 1976, winner of the Cinema Institute Films’ Award at the Documentary and Short Films Festival, Egypt, 1977; as well as the Kelibia Festival Award, Tunisia, 1978; al-Mahatta (The Station), winner of a major award at Oberhausen Short Film Festival, Germany, 1989; the EU Award at FESPACO Festival, Burkina Faso, 1990; The Silver Sword Award at Damascus festival, 1990; and The Silver Tanit Award, Carthage festival, Tunisia, 1991. Eltayeb has served as head of the Sudanese Film group for several terms and as secretary of the Sudanese Film club. He has written numerous articles on cinema, published in major Sudanese newspapers. He is currently working on a long fiction film, al-Siraj wal-attama (The Lantern and Darkness).

Jamal Mahjoub is an award-winning writer of mixed Sudanese and Birtish heritage. Born in London, he was raised in Khartoum where the family remained until 1990. He was awarded a scholarship to study in England and attended university in Sheffield. He has lived in a number of places, including the UK, Denmark and currently, Spain. He writes in English. Mahjoub’s novels include Navigation of a Rainmaker; Wings of Dust; and In the Hour of Signs; The Carrier (1998); Travelling with Djinns; The Drift Latitudes, and Nubian Indigo. In 2012 Mahjoub began publishing crime fiction under the pseudonym “Parker Bilal.” The Golden Scales is the first of a projected series set in Cairo featuring the exiled Sudanese detective Makana. The second book in the series, Dogstar Rising, appeared in February 2013. The third book in the series is "The Ghost Runner, published in 2014. Mahjoub’s work has been broadly acclaimed and translated. His 1993 novel, The Cartographer’s Angel won a one-off short story prize organised by The Guardian newspaper in conjunction with the publisher Heinemann Books. In 2001 in Italy he was a finalist for the La cultura del mare prize started by Alberto Moravia. In 2004 in France The Carrier won the Prix de L’Astrolabe, an award given annually at the Etonnants Voyageurs festival in St Malo. In 2005, "The Obituary Tango" was shortlisted for the Caine Prize.

Hassan Musa is a visual artist, writer, and teacher. He studied painting in Khartoum Art School (1974) and obtained a doctorate in art history from the University of Montpellier (1990). His art work has been exhibited around the world. His recent group exhibitions include Divine Comedy, Frankfurt, Savannah, and Washington, 2014/2015; La Triennale de la Tapisserie, Tournai 2011 (Belgium); Black Womanhood, The Hood Museum of Art (2008); and Africa Remix (2004-2007). His recent individual exhibitions were held in London at the Gallery of African Art (2013); Brussels at the Galerie Pascal Polar (2008); and Beirut at the Agial Art Gallery (2006). His work can be seen at He has published several children books in France with “Les Editions Grandir, Les Editions Lirabelle, Flies France and Dar Alsaqi (Beirut).” Musa has published critical texts in various journals, including Les Temps Modernes (2002), Africultures (2007), Critical Interventions (2008), and The South Atlantic Quarterly (2010).

Amir Nour is an internationally renowned sculptor living in Chicago, Illinois. He was educated at the School of Fine and Applied Art in Khartoum, receiving a diploma in 1957. He later returned to Khartoum where he was director of the Department of Sculpture from 1963 to 1965. He received a diploma from the Slade School of Fine Art in London in 1962 and completed one year of postgraduate work at the Royal college of Art in London in 1966. He attended Yale University on a Rockefeller Fellowship where he received a B.F.A and M.F.A in 1966. Later, he earned a Ph.D. in Art History from the University of St. Andrews, Scotland. Amir Nour’s work has been exhibited in the United States and Europe as well as Africa and Cuba. Exhibitions in the U.S. have included the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, NY, and the Museum of Art, Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In Europe, he has exhibited at Maison de la Culture Andre Malraux, Reims, France; the Grand Prix International d’art Contemporain de Monte-Carlo, Monaco; the Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, and the Konsthall in Malmo, Sweden. His work resides in numerous public and public collections including the National Museum of African Art, Washington D.C.; Bank of Paris, New York; among others.

Fathi Mohammed Osman is the social partnerships manager for DAL FOOD, the DAL Group. He has served as manager for several art and design groups in Khartoum and London and worked as a freelance writer and journalist. He has his B.A. in fine arts from the College of Fine and Applied Arts in Khartoum, a post graduate diploma from the Hungarian Academy of Fine Arts, and a doctoral degree from Eötvös Loránd University in the history of art and folklore. He has held several individual drawing and painting exhibitions since 1977 and participated in group exhibitions in Khartoum, Damascus, Budapest, Durham, and High Wycombe. He published two illustrated books with the French publisher GRANDIR,“Bait Al-Jack: A conversation with Ibrahim El Salahi,” in Arabic in December 2011, and has three more books on Sudanese visual arts forthcoming.

Nureldin Satti graduated from the University of Khartoum in 1969 where he obtained a B.A. in English and French. In 1971 he obtained a Masters in Literature from the University of Lyon (France) and a Ph.D. in comparative literature in 1974 from the University of Paris Sorbonne. Ambassador Satti is a seasoned diplomat who combines a prominent U.N. career with a teaching and conflict resolution, peacekeeping, peace-building and a culture of peace one. From Burundi, Djibouti, the DRC, Chad, Kenya, Libya, Rwanda, Somalia, South Sudan and Sudan, to the Philippines, he made a notable contribution to the resolution of conflict, the protection of human rights, and attempts at re-building governance and democratic institutions. As early as the mid-seventies of last century, Dr. Satti made a significant contribution to the debate on identity in Sudan, notably by coining the concept of “Alsudanawiyya”, which advocated sound management of diversity in the Sudan and a principled dialogue between the various, sometimes violently conflicting, ethnic, linguistic, cultural and religious strands of the Sudanese society.
Currently, Dr. Satti is Secretary General of the National Library of Sudan. He is author of a number of articles in Arabic, English, and French on the issues of identity, inter-cultural dialogue, and the culture of peace, as well as a book in Arabic on the failures of the Sudanese intelligentsia. Two other books are forthcoming.

Lemya Shammat is an assistant professor and former head of the languages and cultural studies department at King Saud Bin Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. She has a Ph.D. in English language and linguistics from Khartoum University. Her research interest areas include phonology, psycholinguistics, comparative studies, semantics, and morphology. Lemya writes regularly for a number of Sudanese newspapers. A member of the Sudanese Writers Union, she published a book on literary criticism and discourse analysis (Madarik Press, 2011) and an anthology of flash short stories (Madarat Press, 2014.)

Ibrahim Mohamed Zein is currently Professor of Islamic Studies and Comparative Religion at the Department of Usul Al-Din and Comparative Religion, Kulliyyah of Islamic Revealed Knowledge and Human Sciences (KIRKHS) at the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM), Kuala Lumpur. He obtained a B.A. (Hons) in Philosophy from the University of Khartoum, and a Ph.D in Religion (1989), Temple University. He helped to establish the Department of Islamic Studies in the University of Khartoum, and to restructure the Department of Islamic Revealed Knowledge and Heritage in the International Islamic University Malaysia. He has written numerous articles and book reviews. Through his academic administration of Islamic Studies programs, supervision of postgraduate research and teaching, he has made a definite impact on the field. His first book, “Al-SulÏah fÊ fikr al-MuslimÊn, was published in 1983.


Mohamed A. Abusabib is an artist and associate professor of Aesthetics at the Khartoum College of Applied Studies. He has taught at the College of Fine and Applied Art in Khartoum (1976-1990) and Uppsala University in Sweden (1996-2009). He was Dean of Khartoum College of Applied Studies (2010-2014) and is currently Chair of the Department of Interior Design at the same College. His publications include, African Art: An Aesthetic Inquiry (Uppsala University, 1995); Art, Politics and Cultural Identification in Sudan (Uppsala University, 2004); and “Shaiqi Adornmental Tools, a Study in Traditional Aesthetics” (in Arabic, Abdalkareem Mirghani Cultural Centre, 2008). He has published a number of articles on Sudanese, African and Islamic aesthetic and cultural studies. He exhibited his work locally and internationally.

Deng Goc Ayuil is a journalist and publisher and owner of Rafiki Publishing House in Juba, South Sudan. He studied at Zagazig University in Egypt. He is active in the cultural and literary scene in Juba, South Sudan.

Ibrahim El Salahi was born in 1930 in the historic city of Omdurman, Sudan, and educated at the School of Design, Gordon Memorial College (subsequently renamed the Khartoum School of Fine and Applied Art). El-Salahi is truly one of the most impressive figures in the field of contemporary African art. He is an artist whose productivity has spanned more than five decades, and a powerful intellectual who remains morally conscientious, socially concerned, and uncompromising in his artistic integrity. El-Salahi's prolific career is one of constant experimentation with different techniques, symbolic languages, and visions. His diverse body of work is not bound within one style nor is it constrained by the early parameters of Sudanese aesthetic concerns. His paintings combine a critical understanding of Western art principles with an original visual sophistication in their reference to Sudanese and African as well as Islamic art forms. Revered throughout African and the Middle East, El-Salahi has inspired generations of artists with his meditative approach to imagery.

Alsir Elsayed is a theater, cultural critic, and a journalist who lives and works in Khartoum Sudan. He is a graduate of the Institute for Music and Drama in Khartoum. He writes for several daily newspaper in Khartoum and special cultural pages in newspapers and magazines. He published several books on theater in Sudan and its relationship with the state and expressive languages including Sudanese Theater: Dramatists and Issues of Concern; and Incomplete Circle; and On the Horizon of Questioning. He also collected and analyzed several plays written by younger playwrights and published them in two volumes. He documented the life and work of Ibrahim Hijazy, an influential Sudanese actor, in a book entitled Acting is my Profession, and another book on the actor Mohammed Sharif Ali. Alsir Elsayed served as Director of Drama in the National Television Corporation (1994-2001), and most recently he has served as head of documentation and special programming in the National Radio Corporation.

Taj Elsir Hassan is a Sudanese artist, master calligrapher, and a foundational figure in the Emarati art movement. He is also a curator and an art critic who specializes in the history of Arabic calligraphy and its relationship with contemporary art movements such as the Letterists known in Arabic as Al Hurufiyyin. Hassan graduated from the Khartoum College of Fine and Applied Arts in 1977, and received a master’s from the Central College of Arts and Design, London, UK, in 1983. He has worked as calligrapher, artist, designer, and art director for several media and academic institutions, including the UAE Ministry of Education. Hassan is one of the founders of the calligraphy group within the Emirates Fine Arts Society in 1989, and a founding member and staff editor of Arabic Letters Magazine (Horouf Arabiyah) in Dubai. Hassan’s innovations in Arabian calligraphy have won him wide recognition. He has recently ranked second in the 8th edition of Al Burda Award, organized by the UAE Ministry of Culture, Youth and Community Development. This is the 15th award he has received during his impressive career.


Hoor Al Qasimi
is President and Director of the Sharjah Art Foundation, is a practicing artist who received her BFA from the Slade School of Fine Art, London (2002), a Diploma in Painting from the Royal Academy of Arts (2005) and an MA in Curating Contemporary Art from the Royal College of Art, London (2008). In 2003 she was appointed curator of Sharjah Biennial 6 and has continued as the Biennial’s Director since that time. She is Chair of the Advisory Board for the College of Art and Design, University of Sharjah, Member of the Advisory Board, Khoj International Artists’ Association, India, and Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing, and serves on the Board of Directors for MoMA PS1, New York, KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin, the International Biennial Association, Gwangju and Ashkal Alwan, Beirut. Al-Qasimi is a Visiting Lecturer at Slade School of Fine Art, London and is currently a Scholar-in-Residence with The Institute for Comparative Modernities (ICM) at Cornell University. She has served on the juries for the Dubai International Film Festival (2014), the Benesse Prize (2013), the Sheikha Manal Young Artist Award (2012) and the selection panel for the Berlin Biennial (2012). Her recent and upcoming curatorial projects at SAF include In Spite of it All (2012) and Ilya and Emilia Kabakov: A Collective Memory (2013), and in 2014 Ahmed Mater: 100 Found Objects, Abdullah Al Saadi: Al-Toubay, Rasheed Araeen: Before and After Minimalism, Wael Shawky: Horsemen Adore Perfumes and other stories, Susan Hefuna: Another Place, and Abdul Hay Mosallam Zarara. Hoor Al-Qasimi has been appointed Curator for the National Pavilion United Arab Emirates at the 2015 International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia.

Salah M. Hassan is the Goldwin Smith Professor and Director of the Institute for Comparative Modernities (ICM), and professor of art history and visual culture in the Africana Studies and Research Center, and the Department of History of Art and Visual Studies, Cornell University. Hassan is an art historian, art critic and a curator. He is editor and founder of Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art, and served as consulting editor for African Arts and currently serves as member of the editorial advisory board of Atlantica and Journal of Curatorial Studies. He authored, edited and co-edited several books including Darfur and the Crisis of Governance: A Critical Reader (2009), and Diaspora, Memory, Place (2008); Unpacking Europe (2001); Authentic/Ex-Centric (2001); Gendered Visions: The Art of Contemporary Africana Women Artists (1997); and Art and Islamic Literacy among the Hausa of Northern Nigeria (1992). He also guest edited a special issue of SAQ: South Atlantic Quarterly, entitled African Modernism (2010). His most recent book is Ibrahim El Salahi A Visionary Modernist, published in 2012 in conjunction with the retrospective of the Sudanese artist, Ibrahim El Salahi, which was exhibited at The Tate Modern in London this past summer (July-October, 2013) after premiering in the Sharjah Art Museum (in March 2013). He has contributed essays to journals, anthologies and exhibition catalogues of contemporary art. He has curated several international exhibitions such as Authentic/Ex-Centric (49th Venice Biennale, 2001), Unpacking Europe (Rotterdam, 2001-02), and 3x3: Three Artists/Three: David Hammons, Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons, Pamela Z (Dak'Art, 2004). He is the recipient of several fellowships, such as the J. Paul Getty Postdoctoral Fellowship, as well as major grants from the Ford, Rockefeller, Andy Warhol and Prince Claus Fund foundations.


Mansour Khalid
Author and Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Khartoum, Sudan
Keynote address: “The Making of a National Identity in Sudan: Obstacles and Future Prospects”

This keynote address will address the major concerns addressed in the theme of the conference. Reflecting on decades long experiences of the author as a scholar, former diplomat and minister of foreign affairs, and as a political figure, this keynote address will trace the journey of making of a national identity in Sudan and in the process it deals with hopes and pains in accomplishing such an identity. It will also provide a critical assessment of the obstacles and the missed opportunities in achieving a national identity based on respect for unity that cherishes and respects diversity. It will also provide insights into future prospects of such a noble task and its possibilities.

Eiman Abbas H. El-Nour
Professor of English Literature, Neelain University and Ahfad University for Women, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
The Other Woman’s Man is so Delicious’: Performing Sudanese ‘Girls’ Songs’

”This paper is critical study of the recent development in Sudanese “girls’ songs,” and the performances associated with such tradition. Performances such as bride-falling and the “ghanaya” gathering are typical of the gender-specific social gathering that is common in the social life of women in contemporary Sudan. The author’s intention is to comment on this category of social gathering, and to argue that while it seems on the surface to provide a space for the meeting of women without their men, very little that happens in these performances has anything to do with the giving of agency to women in a strictly traditional Islamic society. Arguing that the songs that are performed at such gathering are anti-women in more ways than one, this paper provides a critique of the lyrics of these songs highlighting the fact that the performances are governed by age-old traditions and customs that are driven by masculine writing about women. In this sense, the paper argues that although it might seem that the space is un-policed, in a Foucauldian sense the very policing is itself part of the design of the party, even if the role of the female singer is central in this gendered gathering. This occurs in spite of the fact that the female singer’s role has changed somewhat since ancient times. The paper discusses what this means for women in contemporary Sudan in context of these performances and the configuration of their aesthetic map. Central to this paper are the following questions: Why do some women consciously and actively promote a negative, even derogatory, image of women and promote the worship of the other sex? And how could this attitude be reversed, or at least contained?

Arwa Alrabeea
Musicologist and Lawyer, Khartoum, Sudan
“Art as an Indicator of Cultural Renaissance in the Sixties and Seventies: The Nationalist Song as an Example”

In his book entitled Heritage: How do we know it, the late Hussein Marwa wrote “The Heritage (al turath) is the heritage; it is not repetitive or multiple. But the way it is perceived is multiple, depending on the number of intellectual perspectives that read it.” This paper deals with the new distinctive era in the development of cultural heritage in Sudan, and in music and singing in particular, as it began to evolve in the 1960s and 1970s. In other words, the sixties and seventies witnessed a multi-faceted cultural renaissance, which led to phenomenal expansion in education provision, economic stability and active intellectual and cultural discourse. Consequently, Sudan witnessed a boom in poetry, music, narratives, visual arts, and the emergence of literary and intellectual schools ushered by the October Revolution of 1964, and the sense of collective consciousness. Yet, with few exceptions this period received the least attention in archiving, documentation or serious critical studies. This paper is an attempt to help redress that gap by studying the nationalist song as one of the cultural components and a means of expression of people’s aspirations for freedom and social justice. The paper will address the leap in melodic thinking, methods of performance and composition through the songs of modern musical culture broadcast first through Radio Omdurman, and later through live performance and in other media such as television and video.

Alfatih Eltahir Diab
Composer, Music Critic and Professor of Music, Institute for Music and Drama,
Khartoum, Sudan
“The Culture of Music in the Sudan of the Sixties and Seventies”

Alfatih Eltahir gives a retrospective view of the cultural scene in the 1960s and 1970s and reflects on why that period stands out as one of the most prolific eras in the history of music and art in Sudan. In answering that question, the paper cites some major milestones. In November 1962, the National Theater of Omdurman hosted a major folklore festival where eight art groups, representing all parts of the country, presented examples of their local heritage. It was the first time ever that such a vast variety of dances, rhythms and melodies were presented in one place. Among those who took part in that event were Mohammed El Amin, Abu Araki El Bakhiet, Eltayeb Abdalla, Abdel Gadir Salim – names that were to become popular singers. Two years later, the October Revolution that toppled the military regime of General Ibrahim Abboud, brought about tremendous change and unleashed unprecedented surge in nationalist songs. Mohammed Wardi and Mohammed El Amin came up with a number of popular nationalistic songs in praise of the Revolution. The lyrics of those songs were written by Hashim Siddig, Fadlallah Mohammed, Ali Abdel Qayyoum, and Mahgoub Sharief – obscure names that were to dominate the scene afterwards. Their lyrics poetically captured people’s aspirations for change. The Institute of Music and Drama, created in 1969, has served as a hub for academic instruction on music, and its graduates have since contributed significantly to the development of Sudanese music. There is always something more to tell about the sixties and seventies, but perhaps the fact that the songs of that period are still popular and celebrated speaks volumes about that period.

Amir Nour
Artist and Sculptor, Chicago, Illinois, USA
“Creating an Identity in 3D format: Amir Nour on his Life and Work”

Salah Hassan Abdalla
Artist and Art Critic, Khartoum, Sudan
“Discourses of Literature on Visual (Plastic) Arts in Sudan, 1960–1980”

The 1930s and 1940s saw no deep engagement in theoretical discourse on plastic arts simply because production had not accumulated to a level that underlined the need for critical analysis. Accordingly, discourse on the plastic arts in Sudan had appeared relatively late, basically driven by individual initiatives. In the mid-1960s, some articles appeared in newspapers and in the Khartoum Magazine. Those were scarce beyond comparison with a dense influx of writings featured in newspapers and magazines during the 1970s, which reflected a wide range of visions. By the late 1970s and early 1980s, discourse on plastic art transformed from brief journalistic articles into lengthy articles and research papers published in few magazines. But it was only in the middle of the third millennium’s first decade that a dedicated “plastic art book” started to appear. That was a leap in quality in the visual art discourse as it helped establish an indispensable reference of study for the fine art movement. Therefore, this paper attempts to find its way back to those early-published writings. It follows the bumpy course that the modern art movement had been through in a journey lined with tension and mutual suspicion between the artists and the successive political regimes in Sudan, a suspicion grounded in the reluctance of the prevailing political regime to help create an environment conducive to the development of art. As a result, the artistic achievements that were made were realized despite the weakness of infra structures. Poor infrastructure, coupled with gross negligence and slackness within the Movement’s own body, resulted in poor archiving, and, by consequence, in the loss or damage of good many art works. The paper aims to provide a survey of critical discourses on the fine art in the Sudan over a period of twenty years (1960 - 1980), with reference to articles by artists or art critics published in the press. These include writings based on a wide range of ideological orientation, from the far right to the extreme left, in an attempt to extrapolate some fundamental observations and conclusions about the main issues addressed in these writings.

Alaeldin Elgizouli
Artist and Art Critic, Khartoum, Sudan
“Self-Taught Sudanese Painters: The Role and Status in Modern Art in Sudan”

This paper addresses a central question in contemporary Sudanese culture, namely the marginalization of the plastic art in the so-called modernism era. Marginalization manifests itself in the lack of elaborate study and scholarly documentation of early modernist art works by self-taught artists, despite their high artistic and historical value. That in turn led to that contribution being inaccessible to the Sudanese public, and as a result an important component of the Sudanese modern art movement is missing. The paper asserts two premises: First, that art as a practice in Sudan is highly diverse and is composed of numerous closely intertwined cycles that share a unique feature: a perpetual influx of creativity that never stopped, although it may have waned in some historical junctures due to objective reasons. The second premise discusses the role of a group of self-taught Sudanese artists who had played a central role in shaping the Sudanese cultural scene since the 1920s, before the establishment of higher academic institutions of art, and even before the introduction of art curriculum for secondary schools during the colonial period. The paper highlights the experience of those artists, and offers evidence of their pioneering role in shaping the early modern art genre in Sudan, which contributed significantly to setting the stage for modernism in the Sudanese culture and urban life.

Fathi Mohammed Osman
Artist, Writer and Art Critic, Khartoum, Sudan
“Creating Outside of the Box: The Story of Two Pioneering Sudanese Artists”

This paper will investigate the contribution of two pioneering Sudanese artists, a sculptor and a painter, who were not part of any movement/school, and chose to go their own way in creating modern art that reflects their own philosophy and vision. It is particularly amazing that they resisted the temptation of joining the popular movement of the 1960s (Khartoum School), and were even critical to it at times.
The example of these two artists illustrates the fact that issue of “identity,” in visual art, was not embraced by all artists, and it was not the main drive behind the artistic creativity/production during the sixties and seventies.
The example of Abdelrazig Abdel Ghafar and T.S. Ahmed shows very clearly that genuine artists do not need to be part of a bigger group or follow a popular trend to be able to produce original and distinctive artwork, and also proves that important contributions, made during the sixties and seventies, can be found outside the mainstream movements.

Rashid Diab
Artist and Art Critic, Khartoum, Sudan
“Art and the Public: Personal Reflections on Running Art Spaces in Sudan”

This paper will be based on the artist’s personal experience in running two art spaces in Khartoum: Dara Art Gallery and Rashid Diab Center. The paper will discuss the personal journey of the artist from his early days as an art student, his experience of studying and living in Madrid, Spain, to his return in Sudan with a focus on the relationship between the art and the public and the efforts he made to provide spaces of exhibitions in Khartoum. The paper will discuss the difficulties in building public spaces of display in a place without a strong tradition of philanthropy and patronage for art and artists, except the state and its declining institutions, especially in post 1970s.

Kamala Ibrahim Ishag
Artist, Khartoum, Sudan
“A Personal Journey: The Artist in Her Own Words”

This presentation is based on the artist’s personal recollections of her life as an artist and the factors that shaped her identity and artwork. She traces her personal journeys from her early days growing up as child to an educated father and civil servant (during the colonial and early postcolonial periods), and to a mother who has been central in shaping her artistic sensibilities. The artist also reflects on her educational journey in Sudan and later on in Britain at the Royal College of Art in London before her return to Sudan to teach at the College of Fine and Applied Art for over three decades. In the process, she elucidates her style of work and her painterly techniques as they link to certain gendered experiences and in relation to Sudanese women’s rituals such as Zar, which has been a major influence in her aesthetics.

Yousif Aydabi
Cultural Advisor, Dr Sultan Al-Qassimi Centre of Gulf Studies, Sharjah, UAE
“Pedagogy of Music and Drama in Sudan: From the Dreams of Identity to the Pitfalls of Dependency”

This paper written by one of the foundational members of the “School of the Bush and the Desert” and the author of the manifesto-like paper known as “A Theater for the People of Sudan” (“Masrah li ‘Umum Ahl Al Sudan”), is based on his reflections on his experiences as a faculty member and a former Dean of the Institute of Music and Drama in the seventies. He and his colleague Al Mahi Ismail had helped lay the foundation for a curriculum that is modern but grounded in Sudanese culture of music and drama represented by its diverse traditions and ethnicities. Coming from a background influenced by socialist education, the author worked hard with his colleague Al Mahi Ismail to create pedagogy of drama and music based on a vision of Sudanese modernity that is globally connected but locally relevant. The author discusses the hopes of creating a pedagogy grounded in a national identity and traces the obstacles that led to dependency and an alien curriculum and teaching of music and drama.

Shawgi Izzeldin Elamin
Director and Playwright, Language Officer, International College of Engineering and Management, Muscat, Oman
“The University Theatre Group and its Influence on Theatre Movement in Sudan: Personal Recollections”

This paper is based on the experience and recollections of the author’s role as one of the founders of the University Theater Group at the University of Khartoum in the 1960s and 1970s. Using his own personal experience as a stage director, performer, playwright and actor, the paper will reflect on the history and influence of the Group’s work beyond the University on the theater movement in Sudan. Given the fact that the Group was highly experimental in their work, their influence was highly revolutionary in trying to create and theorize for a Sudanese theater that will benefit from the latest developments internationally and adapt them to a Sudanese language and aesthetics. The Group authored as well as adapted several plays into Arabic and performed them inside and outside the University. The paper will deal with the remarkable efforts of the Group and the obstacles they faced in creating such a movement.

Essam Abu El Gaseem
Theatre Critic and Journalist, Department of Culture and Information, Sharjah, UAE
“Theatrical Seasons, 1967–1985: Identity, Modernity, and Transformation”

This paper deals with the “Theatrical Seasons’” (al Mawasim Al Masrahiyya) experience in Khartoum between 1967 and 1985, in an effort to highlight the concerns and trends of the writers and directors who contributed to such experiments It will also discuss a number of questions, both technical and intellectual, posed by such experiments in the history of theater in Sudan, which continued to exist longer than any other similar ones in Sudanese cultural scene before they failed due to internal political strife or intervention by the state bureaucracy. Dealing with such history from the perspective of the artist in relationship to the state, or the issues of originality, contemporaneity, and authenticity, the Theatrical Seasons’ experience presents itself as an attractive phenomenon worthy of investigation. This paper benefitted immensely from statistical data as well as reflections and visions contained in an important book entitled, “The Theatrical Movement in Sudan: 1967-1978”, co-authored by Osman Ali El Fekki and Sa’ad Yousef Obaid and published by the Ministry of Culture and Information, Sudan.

Elnour Hamad
Researcher, Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies, Doha, Qatar
“The Fleeting Hopes of the 1960s and 1970s: When Sudan Was a Cradle for Intellectualism”

This paper primarily hinges on participant observation (known as qualitative method in cultural anthropology circles). It is more of a personal testimony on the vibrant period of the 1960s and the 1970s, in which post-colonial Sudan had witnessed a remarkable intellectual and cultural awakening, especially in the fields of thought, visual arts, and literature. The paper will also draw from scholarly and archival material, inside and outside Sudan. It will illustrate the Sudan’s intellectual and political vibrancy of the 1960s and will explain how it was, for the most part, an echo of a global vibrancy of the 1960s, a phenomenon seen by many scholars as international. The paper will also address the negative efforts to curb democracy by amending the constitution purposely by traditional parties to ban certain political views, which eventually led to the military coupe of Colonel Numairi in 1969. Besides explaining how that period was vibrant in the fields of thought, art, literature, as well as in attempting to coin a unique Sudanese identity, the paper will also address how that period was a fleeting moment in the post-colonial period in Sudan. It will explain how irrational political rivalry has resulted in series of unethical wars between the custodians of traditions and advocates of modernity in Sudan and how that culminated into almost a total loss for all.

Rogaia M. Abushara
Professor of Anthropology, Georgetown University, Doha, Qatar
“Abdel Khaliq Mahgoub: The Modernist Anthropologist”

This paper elucidates the relevance of Abdel Khaliq Mahgoub, as an important Sudanese thinker, to understanding past and modern predicament in Sudan, drawing from a large body of his philosophical work. He was known for introducing the idea of the “modern Sudan” in the discourse of civil society and political life, which later became popular as witnessed in the concept of the “new Sudan” which has been popularized by the late John Garang. The ways in which Mahgoub conceived of modernity and articulated it in this extensive corpus of writing is the primary focus of the paper.

Ibrahim Mohamed Zein
Professor of Comparative Religion, International Islamic University Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
“El Turabi’s Art and the Questions of Sudanese Identity: A Interpretive Reading of the Logic of Monotheistic Interpretation”

The late 1970s have seen deep transformations in Al Turabi’s views on the questions of art and Sudanese identity. Perhaps the direct cause behind, or at least one of the drivers of, that transformation was the logic of the monotheistic interpretation. And perhaps that transformation had had its roots in the political developments in the mid-1960s (namely the political alliances to outlaw the left and the communist party, and the National Front alliance against the Nimeiri regime, which ended in the so-called national reconciliation and Al Turabi’s assimilation into Nimeiri’s Sudanese Socialist Union after having announced the disbanding of the Islamic Movement). The 1960s and 1970s was a period that saw major political transformations involving both those in power as well those who moved from the opposition seats to have a share in power.
That political impetus paved the way for the rise of new political forces that were to have an instrumental role in reshaping the Sudanese identity from the mid-1980s up to the present. That has had a clear impact on understanding the questions of art and religion as pre-requisites for understanding the identity and its moral and material manifestations. Since the Logic of Monotheistic Interpretation represents the main treatise adopted by Al Turabi in his scheme for renewal of thought, we need to understand it first and then identify the associated practical and theoretical impact in the views regarding the universe, life, and place. We need to note that the “national unity through Islam” notion that had embodied Al Turabi’s political stance at the time of the National Front has transformed into an all–embracing notion based on the logic of monotheistic interpretation, which represents an attempt to present a new vision for understanding the Holy Quran and then understanding the questions of art, religion, and identity as part of that context. It is worth highlighting, however, that the regenerative approach has had its roots in the 1970s.

Hassan Musa
Artist and Writer, Domessargues, France
“Who Invented Sudanese Modernity?”

This paper represents an attempt to explore the complexity of concepts that Sudanese middle class intellectuals and their political allies were able to negotiate through their efforts to justify their political position as the only viable one. In this process, middle class intellectuals had to define “Sudanese modernity” as a remix of contradictory ideas highlighting the conflicts of social interests in Sudan of the 20th century. The paper critically re-examine today’s common place ideas among Sudanese such as Sudanese Civilization, Sudanese identity, Sudanese Nation, Sudanese Islam, Sudanese people, Sudanese State, Sudanese art and literature.

Abdullahi Ali Ibrahim

Literary Critic and Professor of History, University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri, USA
“The Colonised in Season of Migration to the North: Biography-less-ness”

The paper will revisit two situations in Tayib Salih’s Season of Migration to the North to argue that the colonized is condemned to be autobiography/biography-less. The first situation takes place in the out-of-place room Mustafa Saeed built in the Sudanese village in which he takes refuge after his adventure in Europe. The narrator hits upon the pages on which Saeed intended to write his autobiography and is struck to find them blank. Saeed’s name is there and his intention to write an autobiography is evident, but nothing else. The second situation is Saeed’s insistence that he is a mere lie when his identity is debated, for better or for worse, in the trial courts before which he appeared in England. In both situations Saeed clearly forfeits his right to an identity. The paper will examine this self–depreciation to dramatize the psychological predicament of the colonized. An autobiography/biography is the clearest statement of individuation. It is a claim by the actor to have had a unique life worthy telling about. However, the access of the colonized to individuation is blocked by a Western sociology that assumes that the colonized remains for eternity a prisoner, or at best, custodian of his ancestor’s sacred traditions. Undifferentiated, the colonized is seen as held together by a collective shell experiencing no disharmony between his social and his inner beings. Thus, he or she is left without an individuality that lies at the root of a biography. As well, and as long as the colonized is brought up to repudiate his traditions to better prepare for modernization, he turns his back to his archaic “native” family. In living in this limbo, the colonized, in Saeed's words, is a lie. Autobiography/biography nestles in a family situation. It is viewed by Sartre as the dialectic of the development of the person studied by psychoanalysis, and the development of history. Having repudiated his biological family, a colonized is not cut for a biography. Family is crucial for mediating in the child’s personalization both its own particularities and the distinctive features of its society. In investigating the biography-less-ness of the elites dramatized by Saeed, the paper will come to grip with the banality of the postcolony as instituted by these fake men and women.

Wagdi Kamil Abdelsieed
Filmmaker and Producer, Aljazeera, Doha, Qatar
“The Burden of the State: Bureaucracy and Cinema in Sudan”

This paper traces the link between bureaucracy, represented by the state and its institutions, and cinema in Sudan. It hypothesizes that Sudan had never developed a Sudanese cinema in the professional sense of the word, i.e. an integrated system of production, display, marketing, informed spectatorship, and representation of Sudan’s diverse cultures. What was available was merely a display of films, predominantly documentary and a few fictional - that failed to develop into a fully-fledged system. Blaming the failure on the post-colonial crisis, the paper maintains that throughout the post-independence years, the cinema in Sudan has failed to establish indigenous cinema spectatorship that could compete with poetry, art, theater, and music in attracting the Sudanese public. Those nostalgic about the golden eras in Sudanese art and literature have every right to do so. However, this paper argues that such nostalgia hardly applies to Sudanese cinema. For throughout the 1960s and 1970s, cinema in Sudan kept presaging developments that never materialized, and blowing the kick-start whistle for a game that has never started.

Talal Afifi
Director, The Sudan Film Factory, Khartoum, Sudan
“Hussein Shariffe’s Unfinished Project of Sudanese Cinema”

This multimedia presentation is a survey of the work and contributions of the late Hussein Shariffe, the brilliant Sudanese filmmaker and painter. It offers a critical assessment of Shariffe’s contribution to cinema and film industry in Sudan as represented by his pioneer efforts in making films using whatever resources available to him in a country with virtually no cinema industry or facilities for post-production. Most specifically this presentation provides a rare glimpse into the making of Shariffe’s films such as his 1975’s “The Dislocation of Amber” (Intiza’ al Kahraman). The presentation focuses also on his latest unfinished film project “Letters from Abroad”. Themed around exile and identity, the film features a number of Sudanese poets, the majority of them belong to the generation of the School of the Bush and the Desert or Abadamk Group, in addition to artists and other intellectuals. (For abiography of Shariffe see: ).

Eltayeb Mahdi
Filmmaker and Lecturer, Institute of Music and Drama, Khartoum, Sudan
“Cinema Spectatorship in Sudan: Past and Present”

This paper chronicles the history of cinema spectatorship in Sudan and describes how that important cultural institution had collapsed after decades of activity. It traces the beginning of cinema to the 1920s when it was introduced by the colonial power and some Greeks and Copts, and the development of national cinema houses which in the sixties grew to 60 in number. In the 1970s, the May regime created the State Cinema Corporation as a central body in charge of import and distribution of films. The paper also notes the role played by the Mobile Cinema Department, created in the 1940s, in displaying documentary and fiction films in villages and towns across the Sudan. It also highlights the role of the Sudanese Film Club, created by a group of Sudanese intellectuals in the 1960s, in presenting non-commercial films representing a wide range of cinematic schools and directors from different parts of the world.
In analyzing the causes of the demise of cinema spectatorship, the paper notes that the collapse began with the annulment of the State Cinema Corporation, in the absence of which the cinema houses could not cope with the challenges of importing films, compounded by increasing taxes beyond their financial capacity. The paper concludes by offering recommendations for addressing this crisis.

Suleiman Mohamed Ibrahim
Filmmaker and Producer, Khartoum, Sudan
“From the Maxim Gun to the Cinematic Camera: Modernisation, Modernity,
and Cinema in Sudan”

This paper captures a critical juncture in Sudan’s history when the Mahdist State was defeated “in the face of railways and the Maxim guns”, to quote Winston Churchill, and Sudan entered into another cycle of colonial exploitation. It was a new era of European quest for raw materials and new markets, but it was also a transformational one for Sudan. The railway was certainly the first vehicle of tremendous change, having connected all parts of the vast country and helped develop indigenous technical skills. Although the main purpose was to transport soldiers- and, subsequently, agricultural products- the colonial authorities made it a point to have a dedicated cinema wagon attached to trains so as to ‘educate and entertain’ on the way. It is ironic that long after the Maxim guns had been silenced, the railway was to be destructed by the national state as the post-independence Sudan was embroiled in a vicious circle of civil wars, coup d’états and an unholy campaign against culture, and in favor of the Maxim. The paper traces the milestones in the development of cinema in Sudan, including the creation of Sudan Film Unit in 1951, and of the State Cinema Corporation in 1971 (and its eventual liquidation in 1991), the role of the Sudanese Film Club. In investigating the role and impact of these organizations, the paper attempts to come to grips with the reasons behind the demise of cinema since the early 1990s. It also sheds light on the richness of the 1960s, and re-examines the 1930s as the period that saw the early signs of a cultural rising in search of Sudan’s cultural and ethnic identity. The paper also examines film criticism and film-specific literature, from al-Fajr Magazine and cultural supplements in newspapers and magazines to Masaa Alkhair, the famous wall newspaper at Khartoum University, and the different forums where the crisis of Sudanese cinema remains a central question.

Mohammed El Makki Ibrahim
Poet, Literary Critic and Former Diplomat, Monterey, California, USA
“What is the Cultural Content of Sudanism?”

The paper will review two aspects of the question of “Sudanism”: First, by looking at the various manifestations of a nascent cultural identity among the peoples of Sudan; and second, by exploring the future areas where such commonalities can be developed and the requisite conditions for such development. This paper is based on a pamphlet the author previously published entitled “From Desert to Jungle: Recollections.” The second part of the paper will be based on Sudanese reactions to the separation of South Sudan.

Abdullahi Gallab
Professor of African and African American Studies, Arizona State University, Tempe, USA
“Social Movements, Civility, Citizenship, and Identity under Construction:
The 1960s in Sudan”

The nineteen sixties were very exciting years for most of the world. They were also witnessed revolutionary development for social movements, social sciences, humanities, the arts, and the new discourses that emerged out of the conversation of the liberation movements that included but were not limited to civil rights, women, and gender studies. It was the time when the issues of race, identity, tradition, religion, impacted fields that investigated and studied the social reality and made remarkable contributions. The local, regional, and global discourses too were touched by the angle of change and started a serious move toward liberating themselves from past colonial conditions and transcended their silencing. At the time, Sudanese intellectual and political life has just been engaged with issues of decolonization, modernity, and the dream of a new Sudanese society. October Revolution opened the door for two contradictory possibilities: a twilight of a new life-project of change; and a darker side for the retreat from such a major undertaking. For that matter, the debate about identity, citizenship, modernity was at full swing. This paper is part of an ongoing project to interrogate a long and complex saga “whose details we might not have known in advance but whose broad outlines were quite predictable,” to quote Immanuel Wallerstein.

Ahmed Ibrahim Abushouk
Professor of History, Qatar University, Doha, Qatar
“Sudanese Identity and Conflict of Visions: A Historical Review”

Intellectual debate on Sudanese identity began in the 1920s and reached its peak in the 1960s and 1970s, resulting in the emergence of three major trends. The first trend focuses on the Arab elements of Sudanese identity associated with Islam and Arabic descent and culture, and the second deals with the African elements linked to indigenous beliefs and African culture. Overcoming the dichotomy of these two polarized views, a third hybrid trend came into existence, combining African and Arab elements. However, these three trends did not produce a comprehensive concept of national identity that will create a sense of belonging to the country as a whole, encompassing its culture, traditions, language, and shared history. But, in contrast, the absence of such a form of national identity, together with other factors, contributed to the secession of Southern Sudan in 2011. This paper attempts to give a descriptive analysis of the features of these three trends, their rationale and impact upon the processes of nation-state building and political integration in the Sudan.

Nahid Mohammed Al Hassan
Writer and Professor of Psychiatry, University of Medical Science and Technology,
Khartoum, Sudan
“Who Are We?: Relating to Women in Sudanese Culture”

Ever since Ottoman colonial rule had laid the first foundations of a nation-state in Sudan, a new consciousness of a common national identity began to take shape. That consciousness was further reinforced when the Sudanese united under the banner of Mahdist revolution and sacrificed their lives for one, all-embracing homeland. During the Anglo-Egyptian Colonial period, the knowledge gained from interaction with the west and other parts of Africa and the third world has lent the national consciousness another important dimension, where identity performs an important psychological function in defending dignity and freedom. Now, half a century on, the question of identity in Sudan is still far from settled. Have we failed to appreciate cultural and ethnic diversity and traded it for an absolutist hegemonic vision? Have we lost any sense of appreciation for unity that sees richness in diversity. Who Are We?: Relating to Women in Sudanese Culture is part of a major research project that seeks to analyze the Sudanese character from a psycho-anthropological perspective that deals with the impact of culture on character and the impact of character on a given culture. Hence, this paper will examine how Sudanese women perceive themselves, and how Sudanese men represented women in literary and popular cultural expression such as poetry, fiction, folk tales, proverbs, the media, and other genres.

Nureldin Satti
Writer, Literary Critic and Former Diplomat, Khartoum, Sudan
“Identity Versus Modernity: Breaking the Conceptual Log-jam”

For many decades, Modernity has been viewed by a large segment of the Sudanese intelligentsia as the antithesis of identity. Identity is seen by Traditionalists and promoters of radical Islamic thought as something of the past that you need to cling to, while modernity is seen as an invention of the West, intended to corrupt the purity of the Sudanese cultural and moral heritage.Traditionalist thinkers claim that modernity is a western concept that cannot be accommodated by Muslim traditions. They offer the alternative concept of Renewal (tajdeed) while the concept of Modernity (Hadatha) was adopted by the liberal, mostly left wing camp, who view the Traditionalist camp as living "outside the course of history" and clinging to defunct concepts that are no longer valid in modern times.
This caused a sort of social and cultural schizophrenia that has deeply affected the peace, stability and the sanity of the Sudanese intellectuals and was reflected in a deep rift in the political scene that resulted, among other things, in the secession of South Sudan.The dominant Traditionalist thought views modernity in pragmatic terms, enjoying its material and technological benefits while rejecting at the same time its foundational moral, ideological and constitutional precepts such as democracy and social, cultural and political diversity.Interpretation of identity as a static and immutable heritage of the past has gone a long way in deepening the social and political crisis and widening the rift between the traditionalist and the modernist camps in Sudan.
In the late seventies of last century I coined the concept of Alsudanawiyya as an alternative concept to resolve the conundrum between identity and modernity. Since those days, I realized the necessity to find a way to break the conceptual lock-jam by offering a more pluralistic and dynamic way of viewing and expressing Sudan's diversities and 'multiple marginality.' Hence, Alsudanawiyya was presented as a way of managing diversity and providing a conceptual platform for reconciling the various sociocultural components of the society by creating an environment conducive to dialogue and the free interaction between the various ethnic, linguistic and religious components of the Sudanese society.
Thus, Alsudanawiyya puts the concepts of identity and modernity in a more dynamic and pluralist perspective where the various constituents of the Sudanese society can dialogue and interact freely. This approach to the resolution of the conceptual lock-jam has the merit of going beyond the dual Arab-African description of the Sudanese situation as it describes that situation for what it really is: a multitude of social, ethnic, linguistic, cultural and religious identities sharing the same sociopolitical and geographical space, with the objective of creating a harmonized society and a viable state.
The secession of Southern Sudan and the deep crisis within the traditionalist camp, illustrated by the proliferation of extremist and terrorist groups, demonstrate the urgent need for a new thinking that views identity as a dynamic process that takes into consideration the positive heritage of the past while at the same time opening up to the winds of change brought to our doorsteps by modernity. Such new thinking should inevitably be anchored in the recognition and sound management of diversity, allowing for the free interaction of ideas and creating space for the constructive contribution by the various segments of the society and the diverse schools of thought. Purportedly, the end-product would be sociopolitical harmony and stability, but the key to it is, has always been, a cultural one requiring a change of attitudes and mindsets. Identity is not seen as a thing of the past, a recycling of old thoughts, customs and practices but rather a process of constant self-reappraisal, and renewal. Such process does not happen in a vacuum: its terms, conditions, parameters and benchmarks are identified more by inventions and innovations in the various walks of life rather than by a glorious but nevertheless quasi-virtual past the relevance of which is gradually, but inevitably, fading away.
The roads to modernity are diverse, based on how each society identifies and relates to its historical and cultural heritage, but that heritage should not be a reason to deny or obstruct the inevitable transformation of that same heritage and its adaptation to modern ways of thinking, doing and living.

Stella Gaitano
Fiction Writer, Journalist and Pharmacist, Juba, South Sudan
“Autobiographical Reflections: A Writer’s Journey”

This paper is based on three part autobiographical essays written by the author before, during and after the referendum that led to the partition of Sudan, The author blends and updates them to create a new piece with a postscript reflecting the latest developments. The three part essays gives a frank and honest assessment on the conditions in Sudan from a perspective of a Southern Sudanese. It is based on genuine and sincere reflections on issues of identity, narrow nationalism and processed of “otherization” in Sudan as experienced by South Sudanese. Although of Southern origins, the author writes in Arabic and grew up and educated in the north, married to a northern Sudanese and where the north has been the only place she experienced as a home. Yet suddenly she found herself uprooted and forced to move South due to the partition of Sudan in 2010.

Kamal Elgizouli
Poet, Writer and Lawyer, Khartoum, Sudan
“The Hole in the House’s Roof: A Fictional Encounter between Two Sudanese Poets, Sirr Anai Kelueijang and Salah Ahmed Ibrahim”

This paper deals with an imagined encounter between two Sudanese poets, the late Sirr Anai Kelueijang and Salah Ahmed Ibrahim, through two poems known for their polemics about identity and the creation of a nation in which both northern and southern can confront their painful history and strife to live in a society that respects diversity and difference. Salah’s poem known as “To My Brother Malwal” Sirr’s poems entitled “To My Cousin Mohammed” are written in different times and the two authors might not have met in real life, yet the issues they addressed in these poems are uncannily similar yet different in their perspectives. These poems offer a glimpse into difference and narratives of identity in relation to subjectivity and parallel histories.

Lemya Shammat
Professor of Languages and Cultural Studies, King Saud Bin Abdul Aziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
“The Style Character of the Narratology of Bushra Elfadil”

This paper tries to identify a number of linguistic and stylistic techniques that play a key role in the narrative of Bushra Elfadil, which is mainly characterized by its experimental and revolutionizing nature, using a unique combination of derivation, word coining, blending, and acoustic energy. The paper also highlights the technical, semantic and aesthetic functions that enrich such stylistic deviations, word play, morphological formulations, and lexical combinations.
Another level of creativity that is realized in the employment of standard Arabic together with its vernacular form in the narration, in addition to the intersexuality with oral storytelling on the content, thematic level and narrative techniques; as well as the use of the possible worlds of parallel reality and its relations with the realms of physics and physiology as a major source of inspiration.
The paper also discusses the creative investment in the linguistic play, and stylistic displacement, which inclusively suggests an efficient reader, with certain characteristics such as possession of sufficient sensitivity to capture tiny details of the text and sound analytical power, which enables the reader to decode the text and capture the shades of meaning, so as to achieve the required reader partnership and thus being an active participant in the text production.

Elias Fath Elrahman
Poet, Literary Critic and Publisher, Khartoum, Sudan
"The Dialectic of Identity and Modernity in Sudanese Poetry: The Rattle of Denial and the Thunder of Affirmation"

This paper is a study of how Sudanese poets have tackled the question of identity in the context of the creation of a new nation. Considering the diversity of Sudanese culture represented by Arab and African elements, and the creation of new identity and culture in the context of decolonization, the question of identity has become a major concern for many Sudanese poets, as it is in the case of visual artists and novelists alike. In this regard poets have had to face the fact of a diverse cultural terrain ranging from African to Arabo-Islamic ones. Some have opted to affirm one element over the other, while some have opted to transcend such dichotomies by creating a new and imagined hybrid identity in which both elements are blended. Hence, the dialectics of denial and affirmation has become central to the production of poetry and other genres in the postcolonial cultural arenas where the question of “what is a Sudanese culture?” remains a persistent concern. The paper offers insights and elucidates such concerns through specific example of poems where the issue of identity and modernity has been central to their content and some cases form.

Jamal Mahjoub
Fiction Writer and Literary Critic, London, UK
“Lines of Convergence: Memory, History and the Quest for Unity”

The paper is based on a reading from a non-fiction book that he is currently writing which takes a personal look back at the history of the Sudan and in particular on the period of the early 1970s when the author lived in Khartoum as a child. The book blends history and current politics with biographical elements and aims at providing a concise account of the difficulties the Sudan has faced in trying to achieve nationhood.


Friday | April 10, 2015

3:00 PM – 3:30 PM • Opening Session


Hoor Al Qasimi, President, Sharjah Art Foundation – Welcoming Remarks

Dr Yousif Aydabi, Cultural Advisor, Dr Sultan Al-Qassimi Centre of Gulf Studies – Introduction


Salah M Hassan, Director, Institute for Comparative Modernities, Cornell University –Introductory Remarks

3:30 PM – 4:30 PM • Keynote Address

Mansour Khalid, Author and Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Khartoum, Sudan


 “The Making of a National Identity in Sudan: Obstacles 

and Future Prospects”



4:30 PM – 6:00 PM • Songs of Modernity/Songs of Freedom: Music, Nationalism and Popular Culture in Sudan


Moderator: Lemya Shammat, Professor of Languages and Cultural Studies, King Saud Bin Abdul Aziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia


Eiman Abbas H El-Nour, Professor of English Literature, Neelain University and Ahfad University for Women, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

“‘The Other Woman’s Man is so Delicious’: Performing Sudanese ‘Girls’ Songs”


Arwa Alrabeea, Musicologist and Lawyer, Khartoum, Sudan

“Art as a Sign of Cultural Renaissance in the Sixties and Seventies: The Nationalist Song as an Example”

Alfatih Eltahir Diab, Composer, Music Critic and Professor of Music, Institute for Music and Drama, Khartoum, Sudan

“The Culture of Music in Sudan of the Sixties and Seventies”

Discussant: Kamal Elgizouli, Poet, Writer and Lawyer, Khartoum, Sudan



6:00 PM – 6:15 PM • Break


6:15 PM – 7:15 PM • Presentation

Amir Nour, Artist and Sculptor, Chicago, Illinois, USA

“Creating an Identity in 3D format: Amir Nour on his Life and Work”

8:30 PM • Dinner






Saturday | April 11, 2015



9:00 AM – 11:00 AM • Modern and Contemporary Visual Arts in Sudan: Discourses and Practices

Moderator: Taj Elsir Hassan, Artist and Master Calligrapher, Sharjah, UAE


Salah Hassan Abdalla, Artist and Art Critic, Khartoum, Sudan

“Discourses of Literature on Plastic Arts in Sudan, 1960–80”


Alaeldin Elgizouli, Artist and Art Critic, Khartoum, Sudan

“Self-Taught Sudanese Painters: The Role and Status in Modern Art in Sudan”


Fathi Mohammed Osman, Artist, Writer and Art Critic, Khartoum, Sudan

“Creating Outside of the Box: The Story of Two Pioneering Sudanese Artists”


Rashid Diab, Artist and Art Critic, Khartoum, Sudan

“Art and the Public: Personal Reflections on Running Art Spaces in Sudan”

Discussant: Mohamed A Abusabib, Professor of Art and Aesthetics, Khartoum College of Applied Studies, Khartoum, Sudan

11:00 AM – 11:15 AM • Break


11:15 AM – 12:15 PM • Presentation


Kamala Ibrahim Ishag, Artist, Khartoum, Sudan 

“A Personal Journey: The Artist in Her Own Words”

12:15 PM – 1:30 PM • Lunch 


1:30 PM – 3:00 PM • Drama and its Pedagogy: Theatre Experiments in Sudan of the Sixties/Seventies

Moderator: Nahid Mohammed Al Hassan, Writer and Professor of Psychiatry, University of Medical Science and Technology, Khartoum, Sudan


Yousif Aydabi, Cultural Advisor, Dr Sultan Al-Qassimi Centre of Gulf Studies, Sharjah, UAE

“Pedagogy of Music and Drama in Sudan: From the Dreams of Identity to the Pitfalls of Dependency” 


Shawgi Izzeldin Elamin, Director and Playwright, Language Officer, International College of Engineering and Management, Muscat, Oman

“The University Theatre Group and its Influence on Theatre Movement in Sudan: Personal Recollections”

Essam Abu El Gaseem, Theatre Critic and Journalist, Department of Culture and Information, Sharjah, UAE

“Theatrical Seasons, 1967–85: Identity, Modernity and Transformation”


Discussant: Elsir Elsayed, Theatre Critic and Journalist, Khartoum, Sudan 


3:00 PM – 3:15 PM • Break


3:15 PM – 5:15 PM • Theorising Modernity in the Context of Diversity (Part I)

Moderator: Ahmed Ibrahim Abushouk, Professor of History, Qatar University, Doha, Qatar


Elnour Hamad, Researcher, Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies, Doha, Qatar

“The Fleeting Hopes of the 1960s and 1970s: When Sudan Was a Cradle for Intellectualism”


Rogaia M Abusharaf, Professor of Anthropology, Georgetown University, Doha, Qatar

“Abdel Khaliq Mahgoub: The Modernist Anthropologist”


Ibrahim Mohamed Zein, Professor of Comparative Religion, International Islamic University Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

“El Turabi’s Art and the Questions of Sudanese Identity: A Interpretive Reading of the Logic of Monotheistic Interpretation”


Hassan Musa, Artist and Writer, Domessargues, France

“Who Invented Sudanese Modernity?”


Discussant: Abdullahi A Ibrahim, Literary Critic and Professor of History, University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri, USA


5:15 PM – 5:30 PM • Break


5:30 PM – 6:30 PM • Presentation

Abdullahi A Ibrahim, Literary Critic and Professor of History, University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri, USA

“The Colonised in Season of Migration to the North: Biography-less-ness”

8:30 PM • Dinner





Sunday | April 12, 2015

9:00 AM – 11:00 AM • Cinema and the Film Industry in Sudan: Past and Future Prospects

Moderator: Abdullahi Gallab, Professor of African and African American Studies, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona, USA


Wagdi Kamil Abdelsieed, Filmmaker and Producer, Aljazeera, Doha, Qatar

“The Burden of the State: Bureaucracy and Cinema in Sudan”


Talal Afifi, Director, The Sudan Film Factory, Khartoum, Sudan 

“Hussein Shariffe’s Unfinished Project of Sudanese Cinema”


Eltayeb Mahdi, Filmmaker and Lecturer, Institute of Music and Drama, Khartoum, Sudan

“Cinema Spectatorship in Sudan: Past and Present” 

Seliman Mohamed Ibrahim Elnur, Filmmaker and Producer, Khartoum, Sudan

“From the Maxim Gun to the Cinematic Camera: Modernisation, Modernity and Cinema in Sudan”


Discussant: Ibrahim El Salahi, Artist and Writer, Oxford, UK



11:00 AM – 11:15 AM • Break


11:15 AM – 12:15 PM • Presentation

Mohammed El Mekki Ibrahim, Poet, Literary Critic and Former Diplomat, Monterey, California, USA

“What is the Cultural Content of Sudanism?”


12:15 PM – 1:30 PM • Lunch


1:30 PM – 3:30 PM • Theorising Modernity and Identity in the Context of Diversity (Part II)

Moderator: Ibrahim Mohamed Zein, Professor of Comparative Religion, International Islamic University Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia


Abdullahi Gallab, Professor of African and African American Studies, Arizona State University, Tempe, USA

“Social Movements, Civility, Citizenship and Identity under Construction: The 1960s in Sudan”


Ahmed Ibrahim Abushouk, Professor of History, Qatar University, Doha, Qatar

“Sudanese Identity and Conflict of Visions: A Historical Review”


Nahid Mohammed Al Hassan, Writer and Professor of Psychiatry, University of Medical Science and Technology, Khartoum, Sudan

“Who Are We?: Relating to Women in Sudanese Culture”

Nureldin Satti, Writer, Literary Critic and Former Diplomat, Khartoum, Sudan

“Identity Versus Modernity: Breaking the Conceptual Log-jam”

Discussant: Deng Goc Ayuil, Publisher, Rafiki Publishing House, Juba, South Sudan

3:30 PM – 3:45 PM • Break

3:45 PM – 5:15 PM • The Nation, Identity and the Literary Imagination

Moderator: Elnour Hamad, Researcher, Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies, Doha, Qatar

Stella Gaitano, Fiction Writer, Journalist and Pharmacist, Juba, South Sudan

“Autobiographical Reflections: A Sudanese Writer’s Journey”


Kamal Elgizouli, Poet, Writer and Lawyer, Khartoum, Sudan

“The Hole in the House’s Roof: A Fictional Encounter between Two Sudanese Poets, Sirr Anai Kelueijang and Salah Ahmed Ibrahim”


Lemya Shammat, Professor of Languages and Cultural Studies, King Saud Bin Abdul Aziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

“The Characteristic of Style in the Narratology of Bushra Elfadil”

Elias Fath Elrahman, Poet, Literary Critic and Publisher, Khartoum, Sudan

"The Dialectic of Identity and Modernity in Sudanese Poetry: The Rattle of Denial and the Thunder of Affirmation"


Discussant: Jamal Mahjoub, Fiction Writer and Literary Critic, London, UK



5:15 PM – 6:15 PM • Presentation  

Jamal Mahjoub, Fiction Writer and Literary Critic, London, UK

“Lines of Convergence: Memory, History and the Quest for Unity”


6:15 PM – 6:30 PM • Closing Remarks and Farewell Reception