Kevlihan (2007). Beyond Creole Nationalism? Language Policies, Education and the Challenge of State Building in Post-conflict Southern Sudan
Download this report
This paper seeks to go beyond a focus on the role of elites in low-capacity states to consider the interaction of language policies and mass responses to these policies in southern Sudan. It reviews processes of elite formation in southern Sudan, the impact of the civil war and the current challenges facing state building there. In common with many post-colonial states, nationalism in Sudan, both north and south, has been elite led and has been characterized by persistent attempts by Khartoum-based governments to impose their conception of the Sudanese state on southern Sudan and resistance to such efforts. Official language policies in southern Sudan have alternated between English and Arabic reflecting this ongoing contestation of identity. This paper considers the impact of the most recent language policy change in favour of English from a local southern Sudanese perspective. It concludes that, while the new language policy has had an impact on people’s expectations and, hence, on their professed desire to acquire new language skills, current state capacity in southern Sudan is such that it is unlikely that these policies will have an impact on southern Sudanese identity formation amongst the general population in the short to medium term, although it will continue to reinforce existing processes that contribute to the creation of a southern Sudanese elite identity.