Shelves: yeayeahelpin I was fortunate enough to hear mamdani speak not too long ago. He is a captivating orator--careful with his words and illuminating with his stories. The third clause in the subtitle of this book is but a hint of Mamdanis bold linkages seldom admitted elsewhere. Not only is this mind-set the driving force behind the War on Terror, it also provides the self-indulgent motto of the human rights interventionist recruited into the ranks of the terror warriors…It is this shared mind-set that has turned the movement to Save Darfur into the humanitarian face of the War on Terror Even if we must act on imperfect knowledge, we must never act as if knowing is no longer relevant 6. This ethical injunction is, I think, one I could get behind.
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Shelves: yeayeahelpin I was fortunate enough to hear mamdani speak not too long ago. He is a captivating orator--careful with his words and illuminating with his stories. The third clause in the subtitle of this book is but a hint of Mamdanis bold linkages seldom admitted elsewhere. Not only is this mind-set the driving force behind the War on Terror, it also provides the self-indulgent motto of the human rights interventionist recruited into the ranks of the terror warriors…It is this shared mind-set that has turned the movement to Save Darfur into the humanitarian face of the War on Terror Even if we must act on imperfect knowledge, we must never act as if knowing is no longer relevant 6.
This ethical injunction is, I think, one I could get behind. And not only does he challenge this seemingly unquestionable perception, that of near of unending racial violence, but by investigating the political implications for historical narrative that renders the labeling of genocide possible, he accounts for how and why this act of naming came into being,.
What purpose could such an act serve in relation to other US political objectives? What does it mean when ubiquitous advertisements, produced by highly funded media campaign, stress the urgency of our need to intervene, now, today? What is the appeal of these moralistic narratives? Why the mass mobilization around this issue? Why now, especially when African violence is typically relegated to back pages in tiny print? The result, in our current geopolitical situation, is this: the astonishing spectacle of the United States, which has authored the violence in Iraq, branding an adversary state, Sudan, which has authored the violence in Darfur, as the perpetrator of genocide.
And yet…the figures for the number of excess dead are far higher for Iraq than for Darfur. The numbers of violent deaths as a proportion of excess mortality are also higher in Iraq than in Darfur Way to go mamdani, huh?!
The politics of naming here coincide with the politics of numeration as pundits plaster alarmist statistics as far as their moralism will take them in what seems to be the paradigmatic characteristic of the fatality-crier from the West, see somalia, the campaign for military intervention is hyped as the numbers of deaths decrease dramatically.
And so the framing of the matter works to bolster support for the War on Terror. It does this, as the above quote shows, on several levels. First, the inflated sense of violence elsewhere functions a valve to siphon the energies and the guilt of US citizens, of all stars and stripes, away from a war in which they, as citizens, are more directly culpable.
And Americans seemed well-placed to take the bait, being a country characterized, Mamdani observes, by generosity in the form of charity and stinginess at tax time. If this is the story those in power are trying to tell, Mamdani tells a different one-- one that effectively, I think, undermines this official narrative.
To do so, he challenges the pivotal Arab v African assumption around which the charge of genocide rests and the whole ball gets rolling. Mamdani poses the question: who is an Arab ? To what do members appeal in the process of claiming Arabic heritage—language, religion, race, culture? Mamdani answers that being an Arab is a political identity. Rather, the migratory Arab nomads, West African pilgrims and peasants and slaves from the south—three groups that characterize the large migratory populations in Sudanese history—more or less assimilated to local cultures in Sudanese regions.
During colonial rule, however, these identities were forced to solidify around the question of land rights. Native administration and indirect rule as pseudo-systems of governance were made possible through the process of organizing strict categories of Settler and Native based on tribe. The central objective in this process of retribalization, argues Mamdani, is marginalize the influences of the Mahdiyya revolutionary movement of the late 19th century.
And the North and the South were further separated in the s as a defense against the Egyptian Revolution and later Egyptian nationalism following WWII, and the more general fear of a spread of Arabic. The dynamism of ethic and tribal groupings, gutted and guided by colonial administrative apparatus, should make clear that what is justified in the name of tradition, or relegated to the backwaters of eternal tribal conflict, is actually something that arose concomitantly with modernization.
This conflict he argues, took place through an increasingly polarizing native-settler paradigm inherited from colonialism and exarcerbated with continued external interference. Humanitarian intervention works alongside the War on Terror, both requiring a righteous subjects and precarious relations between law and power.
A demonstration that took place in New York in February of that year numbered around , protesters, numbers that those seeking to halt the violence in Darfur could never dream of approaching in sheer scale. But advocacy itself is a problem, Mamdani argues, pouring particular scorn on the Save Darfur Coalition, a U. Often strongly and accurately critical of the actions of the United States in Africa, Mamdani nevertheless quotes, as his base source for the numbers of dead in the conflict, the Government Accountability Office, an arm of the U. Similarly, though, according to Mamdani, the United Nations is to be distrusted as a useful tool of neocolonialist designs, reports from UN organizations such as the United Nations Environment Programme are frequently referred to by the author for the apparently lucid analysis which they bring. Mamdani also has an unfortunate tendency to make sweeping statements which he is unable to back up with evidence in his text. Mamdani would say - of the suffering of the disenfranchised, left at such loose ends and defenseless in the villages and refugee camps of Darfur and eastern Chad. Despite its dismissive attitude towards the actual victims of violence in Sudan and their concerns, upon finishing Saviors and Survivors it is their voices - voice one searches for in vain in the book itself - that the reader most wishes to at long last hear.
Mahmood Mamdani's 'Saviours and Survivors: Darfur, politics, and the War on Terror'