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HSRC Press :: Africa :: Saviours and Survivors

Saviours and Survivors
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Saviours and Survivors

Darfur, Politics and the War on Terror

Mahmood Mamdani

Format148mm x 210mm (Soft Cover)
ISBN 100-7969-2252-7
ISBN 13978-07969-2252-6
Publish Year2009
RightsSouthern Africa Rights Only
DescriptionRelated ProductsEmail To A FriendProduct RatingCustomer Reviews

Saviours and Survivors :: Darfur, Politics and the War on TerrorFree DownloadSaviours and Survivors :: Darfur, Politics and the War on Terror
PodcastIn this first segment of a five-part podcast package, the HSRC’s Suren Pillay introduces Professor Mahmood Mamdani, who looks at divergent claims on the number of people killed in the conflict.

Duration: 4 min 25 sec


From the author of the acclaimed Good Muslim, Bad Muslim, this is the first analysis of the crisis in Darfur to consider the events of the last few years within the context of Sudan’s history, and to critically examine the efficacy of the world’s response to the crisis.

Illuminating the deeply rooted causes of the current conflict, Mahmood Mamdani explains how British colonialism tribalised Darfur, dividing its population into so-called ‘native’ and ‘settler’ tribes, and creating homelands for the former at the expense of the latter. A severe drought triggered a civil war between these groupings in 1987–89, and the conflict reignited in the 1990s when the government tried unsuccessfully to tackle the issue of land allocation. The effects of the Cold War in exacerbating the 40-year civil war in Chad, and how this impacted on Darfur, are analysed.

In 2003, the rise of two rebel movements led to a brutal insurgency and counter-insurgency campaign. By then, the conflict involved national, regional and global forces, including a powerful western lobby dressed up as ‘humanitarian intervention’ and calling for military involvement in Darfur.

Incisive and authoritative, Saviours and Survivors radically alters our understanding of the crisis in Darfur and inspires readers to look beneath the media hype that often accompanies reporting on Africa. Mamdani cautions against drawing simple caricatures of conflict in Africa and encourages us to look more deeply into the causes of conflict in order to be able to address it effectively.

Co-published with Pantheon Books, New York


Part I: The Save Darfur Movement and the Global War on Terror
1 Globalizing Darfur
2 The Politics of the Movement to Save Darfur

Part II: Darfur in Context
3 Writing Race into History
4 Sudan and the Sultanate of Dar Fur
5 A Colonial Map of Race and Tribe: Making Settlers and Natives
6 Building Nation and State in Independent Sudan
7 The Cold War and Its Aftermath

Part III: Rethinking the Darfur Crisis
8 Civil War, Rebellion, and Repression
Conclusion: Responsibility to Protect or Right to Punish?
Select Bibliography

About the Author/s

Mahmood Mamdani is Herbert Lehman Professor of Government, and a member of the Anthropology and Political Science departments and the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University. He was previously the Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences at Makerere University and the founding director of the Centre for Basic Research in Kampala. He has also taught at the University of Dar es Salaam and the University of Cape Town. Mamdani is a past president of the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA). His previous books include Citizen and Subject (recognised as ‘one of Africa’s 100 best books of the 20th century’ in Cape Town 2001 and awarded the Herskovitz Prize of the African Studies Association of USA for ‘the best book on Africa published in the English language in 1996’), When Victims Become Killers, Scholars in the Marketplace and Good Muslim, Bad Muslim. He lives in New York City and Kampala.


The importance of the book is not only that it provides a context for the violence in Darfur – it is also the first work to critically conceptualize the shape of the post Cold War international order . . . the critique of humanitarian interventionism and the difference between ‘survivors’ justice’ and the justice of revenge is particularly important . . . This is a work of incredible political courage.
—Amitav Ghosh, former Professor of Anthropology, Harvard University, and internationally acclaimed author

Mamdani traces the path to the Darfur tragedy through its historical and colonial roots to the current situation, where drought and desertification have let to conflict over land among local tribes, rebellion, and finally to the brutal involvement of the forces of the state and to the efforts of the United Nations and others to help the victims and stop the violence. His radical reevaluation of the Darfur problem is a major contribution to understanding and, it is to be hoped, to ending a shocking human disaster.
—Sir Brian Urquhart, former Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations

Saviours and Survivors is an incisive and challenging analysis. Framing both Darfur's war and the ‘Save Darfur’ movement within the paradigm of the west's historic colonial encounter with Africa, Mahmood Mamdani challenges the reader to reconsider Darfur's crisis as ‘genocide’ warranting foreign military intervention.
Alex de Waal, Fellow at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and author of War in Darfur

Mahmood Mamdani has turned his fearless independence of mind on Darfur, Sudan and the so-called ‘War on Terror’, producing a book that is as passionate and well-informed as it is intelligent and (for those used only to surface orthodoxies) challenging.
Conor Gearty, Director of the Centre for the Study of Human Rights at the London School of Economics

SAVIOURS AND SURVIVORS is a brilliantly argued and profoundly challenging critique of liberal support for humanitarian intervention in Darfur. Beyond this, Mamdani sets forth an alternative approach to such catastrophic situations. This book should be required reading for the Obama foreign policy team.
Richard Falk, United Nations Special Rapporteur and Professor Emeritus, Princeton University

A bold, near brilliant reexamination of the conflict in Darfur….Essential reading for those interested in the topic.”—Publishers Weekly

A necessary contribution to the literature surrounding both humanitarian aid and African geopolitics.”—Kirkus Reviews

By providing broader context, Mamdani brings fresh perspective to conflict in this troubled region.”—Booklist

Click on the links below to read the reviews:

Saviours & Survivors / The Weekender Weekend Review 27 June 2009

Saviours & Survivors / Mail & Guardian 26 June 2009

Saviours & Survivors / City Press 05 July 2009

Saviours & Survivors /Pambazuka



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