Between Ideological Security and Intellectual Plurality: 'Colonialism' and 'Globalization' in Northern Sudanese Educational Discourses - HAL-SHS - Sciences de l'Homme et de la Société Access content directly
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Between Ideological Security and Intellectual Plurality: 'Colonialism' and 'Globalization' in Northern Sudanese Educational Discourses


The last decade has witnessed the proliferation of discourses on globalization, both by critics and apologists, in political, economic and academic forums all over the world. In Arabic-speaking countries, intellectuals and writers have engaged in journalistic and scholarly debates about what is perceived as an unfolding, inevitable process, carrying a range of challenges and opportunities. Often considered a periphery in the Arab world, the Sudan has not remained outside these discussions on ʿawlama (Arabic term for globalization). Drawing upon Frederick Cooper's heuristic distinction between indigenous categories and analytical categories, this article investigates how Sudanese scholars of education and state officials have used and conceptualized globalization in recent academic research and publications by government bodies, including the National Center for Curriculum and Educational Research and the Ministry of General Education. What does ʿawlama refer to and what functions does it fulfil in Sudanese public debates? The study shall highlight connections between globalization and colonialism (istiʿmār), two important discursive resources that have been mobilized to support state policies and promote educational reforms. At first sight, their ideological use looks very similar, insofar as both terms are central to discourses denouncing, or warning against, foreign threats and cultural invasion. However, a closer enquiry shows that intellectual assessments of developments labelled as colonialism or globalization are much more ambivalent. History textbooks for secondary grades quite inconsistently depict colonialism at once as an abstract "abominable" phenomenon and as a set of concrete British policies whose overall impact was not entirely negative. Moreover, the adjective "imperialist" serves to discredit European countries that are also referred to as "advanced nations" in other instances. Globalization is alternatively or simultaneously conceived as a mixture of technological revolution, cultural imposition and economic competition, an ongoing process which currently challenges the Sudanese educational system and Sudanese society as a whole. Some scholars stress the secularization aspect of globalization, seeing it as a threat to Sudanese culture, whereas others address the "global" issue of human rights, advocating new pedagogic initiatives in this field. The latest information and communication technologies are frequently praised by enthusiastic proponents of curricula Islamization. In contrast with recent studies on the Sudanese educational system and discourse, this research seeks to explore the multiplicity of perspectives, the educational dilemmas and the ideological contradictions within scholarly works and history schoolbooks produced in the Sudan during the last decade. The state's authoritarian character and the "Islamist" orientation of the current ruling elite do not automatically entail a single, unified, "pro-NIF" discourse in the educational sphere. In addition, the actual impact of textbook contents as "weapons of mass instruction" should be relativized in the light of increased access to other sources of information and knowledge, such as radio broadcasts, television programs, and the World Wide Web. It is all the more crucial to point out at the plurality of Northern Sudanese voices at this critical juncture in Sudanese history, when fierce "wars of visions" and harsh competition for political and economic resources may well translate into a regional reconfiguration of power with the establishment of two separate Sudanese states after 2011.
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halshs-00502858 , version 1 (15-07-2010)


  • HAL Id : halshs-00502858 , version 1


Iris Seri-Hersch. Between Ideological Security and Intellectual Plurality: 'Colonialism' and 'Globalization' in Northern Sudanese Educational Discourses. Barbara Casciarri, Munzoul Assal & François Ireton. Multidimensional Change in Sudan (1989-2011): Reshaping Livelihoods, Conflicts, and Identities, Berghahn, p. 302-319, 2015. ⟨halshs-00502858⟩
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