Burton (1991). Dvelopment and Cultural Genocide in the Sudan
Download this report
Genocide is easily defined: 'the deliberate extermination of a people'. It appears to occur in human history primarily in association with the emergence of the state, or in the effort of an established regime to maintain or expand its domination, and is virtually unrecorded for 'traditional' or pre-state societies. Although the concept of 'development' is by contrast exceedingly ambiguous (other than as an ideal process or social form in an evolutionary typology), the meaning conveyed would be antithetical to the definition of genocide, being some form of material or moral improvement in social existence, rather than a means towards the rapid extinction of a cultural tradition.
This short article claims that the regime in Khartoum under the 'leadership' of Omer Hassan al-Bashir continues to be characterised by political hegemony, economic disarray, cultural bias, and explicit racism, and that it has been carrying out a policy of genocide against the Nilotic-speaking peoples of the Southern Sudan known to the external world as the Shilluk, Dinka, Nuer, and Atuot. After a brief review of relevant phenomena from the pre-independence era, followed by an account of the emergence of a hybrid Western/Islamic notion of development, information is presented about some of the recent ways that international aid has been employed to undercut the very possibility of traditional culture and social organisation. In essence, it will be argued that al-Bashir seeks to 'develop' these Nilotic peoples by exterminating them culturally via his wider policy of re-creating the Sudan as a fundamentalist Islamic state.