Agricultural development policy, ethnicity and socio-political change in the Nuba Mountains, Sudan

Date of Completion

January 1988


Anthropology, Cultural|Economics, Agricultural|Sociology, Ethnic and Racial Studies




The post-independence Sudanese state is conceived as beset by both subjective crises of legitimation (stemming from an immature nationhood and national unity, pervasive regional and ethnic polarization and development imbalances), and objective crises of development (dictated by the chronic revenue and food shortages and continuous failure of imported agricultural development proposals). The crises of political legitimization and development asserted themselves structurally and assumed an organic articulation and interrelationship to the extent that the resolution of one proved irreconcilable with the other--at least at the local and regional level. Agriculture was persistently viewed by the Sudanese state as the most viable area for intervention through the implementation of rural agricultural development programs to thereby solve the revenue, national integration and hence legitimization crises at once. However, in the context of the Nuba mountains this proved problematic due to the irreconcilable conflict of interests among the diverse ethnic groups that principally stemmed from the British colonial legacy. This, in turn, promoted the continual failure of rural agricultural development policies. The failure of development has been manifested in the rise and fall of the Nuba Mountains' ethno-political organizations during the last four decades agitating the persistent state of ethno-regional development imbalance.^ This thesis traces these events with attention to the permanent and changing ethnic composition of the Nuba mountains, the numerous successive agricultural development schemes, and the social-political organizations which both respond to and structure these events. And it includes commentary on the state objectives--argued to be doomed to failure, contradictory and difficult to achieve. Indeed, it accentuated and enhanced inter-ethnic cleavages and polarization rather than eliminating such structures. ^