UNS Declaration Regarding the Recent Human Rights Violations in Sudan

We, the undersigned, condemn the recent human rights violations perpetrated by the government of Sudan against citizens exercising their democratic and inalienable right to peaceful protest.

Since December 2018, international human rights organization Human Rights Watch has reported the arrest and detention of dozens of peaceful protestors by the Sudanese security forces, such as human rights defender Rudwan Dawod. In December, eleven members of the Sudan Doctors’ Syndicate were detained without legal cause, while the government attacked hospitals and protesters with live ammunition and tear gas. While in detention by security forces, civilians are subjected to beatings, torture, and other forms of abuse. In January, Ahmed Elkhair, a school teacher from Khashm El Girba in Eastern Sudan, was tortured to death by the security forces. This has been recently confirmed by government prosecutors. Meanwhile, the Sudanese government continues its human rights abuses, such as using live ammunition against peaceful protestors, the use of excessive physical violence, as well as unlawfully raiding homes.

As Nubiologists, we devote our lives to the study of the past and present people and cultures of Egypt and the Sudan. Such a scholarly practice can never be allowed to fetishize its object of research at the cost of neglecting the social and political context that allows that research to take place. In the face of oppression and violence, which does not only affect those in Sudan who work with us, who study with us, who teach us, but also the entire society of which they are part, we cannot remain silent.

As Nubiologists and scholars who bear witness every day to both prosperity and conflict along the Nile, we stand in solidarity with those who exercise their democratic and inalienable right to peaceful protest and demand an immediate halt to the intolerable aggression of the Sudanese government, which so far has been grossly neglected by the international community.

Signatories from the Union for Nubian Studies
[Add your signature through this link]

  1. Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei, Independent Scholar
  2. Alexandros Tsakos, University of Bergen
  3. Giovanni Ruffini, Fairfield University
  4. Shayla Monroe, University of California Santa Barbara
  5. So Miyagawa, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen

Other Signatories

  1. Solange Ashby, Independent Scholar
  2. Josef Ben Levi, Independent Scholar
  3. Anne M. Jennings, Anthropologist
  4. Bruce Williams, Archaeologist
  5. Debora Heard, Archaeologist
  6. Charles A. Grantham, Independent Scholar
  7. Angelika Jakobi, University of Cologne
  8. Dimah Mahmoud, Independent Scholar
  9. Daniele Salvoldi, Egyptologist
  10. Brenda J. Baker, Bioarchaeologist
  11. Rosetta Cash, Independent Scholar
  12. Effrosyni Zacharopoulou, Independent Scholar
  13. Mohamed Ali, Independent Scholar
  14. Kristina Richardson, Queens College, CUNY
  15. Mary Rambaran-Olm, Independent Scholar
  16. Erik Wade, Universität Bonn
  17. William Carruthers, University of East Anglia
  18. Christina Riggs, University of East Anglia and All Souls College, Oxford
  19. Jessica Parr, Simmons University
  20. Brandon W. Hawk, Rhode Island College
  21. Christina Lee, University of Nottingham
  22. Eduardo Ramos, Penn State University
  23. Carla María Thomas, Florida Atlantic University
  24. Shela Raman McCabe, University of Notre Dame
  25. Eileen A. Joy, Publisher, punctum books
  26. Martin Findell, University of Nottingham
  27. Jonathan Hsy, George Washington University
  28. Elaine Treharne, Stanford University
  29. Matthias Rein, Saarland University
  30. Nahir I. Otaño Gracia, Beloit College
  31. Joyce Haynes, Independent Scholar
  32. Salim Faraji, California State University, Dominguez Hills
  33. Kathryn Howley, Institute of Fine Arts, NYU
  34. Jasmin Miller, University of California, Berkeley
  35. Uffe Steffensen, Archaeologist


Old Nubian at the Leiden Summer School in Languages and Linguistics

For the first time, the Leiden Summer School in Languages and Linguistics will offer a course in Old Nubian, taught by Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei. The Summer School accepts scholars at BA/MA/PhD level, and will be held from July 22–August 2 at Leiden University.

Course description

Old Nubian is the oldest fully deciphered language of the Nilo-Saharan phylum, the least studied of all linguistic phyla on the African continent. Together with Ge’ez and Meroitic, Old Nubian is the only local language of Sub-Saharan Africa endowed with its own script. This makes the study of Old Nubian of particular significance, given the rarity of source material in a context where historical testimonies are limited.

The Old Nubian alphabetic writing system was developed in the Nubian Nile valley during the 6th c. CE based on the Coptic script, incorporating several symbols from the Meroitic alphasyllabary. It became a major language in the three Nubian kingdoms Nobadia, Makuria, and Alwa. After the 8th c., when Makuria incorporated Nobadia, we find the first textual evidence of the language, which remained in use, with various degrees of intensity, until the 15th c. At the same time, the Old Nubian language was only one of several languages spoken and written in the Nubian kingdoms, which also included Coptic, Greek, and Arabic, all of which left their mark on the language. The Old Nubian materials that have been excavated since the end of the 19th c. offer a broad view of Medieval Nubian society and religion, including both literary and documentary texs. Old Nubian also forms the ancestral language of the contemporary Nile Nubian language Nobiin.

As Old Nubian is currently not taught systematically at any university-level course, participants in this course will have the unique opportunity to gain a good grasp of Old Nubian grammar and literature, as well as with insight into how the language is positioned within the Nubian language family and the broader Nilo-Saharan phylum. As such, the course will rely heavily on written materials, both published and upublished, from the Medieval Nubian period and assumes knowledge of basic linguistic concepts. During the first week, a grammatical outline with daily exercises will be provided, while in the second week we will collectively read the Old Nubian literary texts, inclduding the Miracle of Saint Menas. No prior familiarity with the language is necessary, though knowledge of Greek and/or Coptic literature from the same period is a useful asset. The students will need to have familiarized themselves with the Old Nubian alphabet prior to the course.

Course reading (in advance of course)

Van Gerven Oei, Vincent W.J. “Remarks toward a Revised Grammar of Old Nubian.” Dotawo 1 (2014): 165–84. https://digitalcommons.fairfield.edu/djns/vol1/iss1/8/

Browne, Gerald M. The Old Nubian Miracle of Saint Menas. Beiträge zur Sudanforschung Beiheft 7. Vienna, 1994.

Application is open until June 1!

Old Nubian Course in Cairo

From September 1 to 12, 2019, Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei will teach an introductory course in Old Nubian at the French Institute for Oriental Archeology in Cairo, in collaboration with the Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology and Fayoum University.

The course is free and open to students, researchers, and academics. Participation is limited to 10 persons, who will receive free accommodation and midday lunches.

Applications are open until March 31, with further details on the IFAO website.