Call for Papers: War in the Sudan

Dotawo 8 (2021): War in the Sudan

War has been a recurring form of violent interaction between communities in the Sudan since the Stone Age, and many chronological divisions in the history of the Sudan are set at events such as wars, battles, conquests, and peace treaties. Still, warfare has often been an overlooked subject among researchers working in the country. A reason for this may be that periods of stability or evolving complexity are usually longer than episodes of war, which occur during relatively short timespans at irregular intervals. Furthermore, the contemporary Sudan has been a violent place, and this has possibly made war in the country a sensitive topic and restrained researchers from making war the subject of their research.

The modern borders of the Sudan are a construct of war. First through the conquests by the Ottoman rulers of Egypt between the 1820s and the 1870s. Then the Anglo-Egyptian conquest in 1898, which also incorporated the independent sultanate of Darfur in 1916. The borders of the Anglo-Egyptian condominium were maintained when Sudan became independent in 1956, but the northern and southern parts of the independent country thereafter fought on and off in the longest civil war in Africa. The war was terminated with the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005, which culminated with a referendum where the southern part of the country voted for secession. The country was split in two in 2011. Nevertheless, violent conflict and war continued as the new states of South Sudan and Sudan were fighting over territory and oil fields in the border regions. Since late 2013, South Sudan has become deeply split in a civil war that is dividing the country along ethnic boundaries with great human sufferings. In the north, Sudan had a central government at war with systematically marginalized peripheries and a suppressed population. Increasing resistance from the inhabitants resulted in the toppling of the old regime in 2019. The new transitional government is now aiming at ending the internal conflicts and integrating the peripheries, and this brings hope to the war-torn country.

War in the Sudan has deep roots. An Upper Palaeolithic cemetery at Jebel Sahaba in the far north of the country is often quoted as the earliest evidence of war in world history. More than 20 victims killed in an attack with bows and arrows were buried at Jebel Sahaba.

The extremities of the earliest war and the violent conflicts in modern times demonstrate that war in the Sudan covers a great time span and various levels of organization – from violent clashes between ethnic groups to warfare between and within states. In the optimistic spirit of new beginnings in the country, time is ripe to consider war in the Sudan from an academic perspective.

The aim of this issue of Dotawo is to explore and explain wars in the Sudan either as case-studies or as broader historical patterns. We seek contributions from various disciplines, such as archaeology, anthropology, history, papyrology and philology, and from all epochs and regions of the Sudan. We suggest research questions such as:

  • Which factors cause war and under which circumstances?
  • Which warfare tactics are used and for which purposes?
  • How do wars come to an end?
  • How are societies affected or changed by wars?
  • How is warfare represented in mythology or propaganda?
  • Are societies with certain forms of social and/or political organization more prone to waging war?

We welcome perspectives on warfare that include but are not restricted to the following: Agency-based, culture-contact, ecological, evolutionary, gender, materialist, structural, or structuralist.

Abstract submission: March 1, 2020, and article submission: December 1, 2020.

Please respond to the volume editor: Henriette Hafsaas (

CfP for Special Dotawo Pamphlet “#SudanUprising: From 30 June 1989 to #Tasgut_Bas”

In response to the recent events in Sudan, the Union of Nubian Studies released a statement that,

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.

To that effect and expanding the scope of our support to more tangible dimensions, we are eager to open this call for submission for a special Dotawo Pamphlet featuring a selection of academic, para-academic, and  grassroot commentary and analysis of this historic #SudanUprising. This will be a curated documentation of personal, social and digital interactions critically examining the state of affairs in Sudan.

The pamphlet is envisioned as a brief but impactful collective of on the ground and diaspora analysis divided into 3 themes. We welcome entries on any or all following areas:

  1. Historical background and influential factors in 30 years of Bashir leading to current situation;
  2. Investigative timeline of turning points and emerging trends of the 2018 Uprising;
  3. Insights and recommendations on moving forward and building on this historic momentum.

We aim to publish in June 2019, marking 30 years since the coup that brought Bashir to power.


  • Abstract (200–300 words): March 15
  • Submission (no word limit, but we aim for concise contributions): April 30
  • Editorial Feedback: May
  • Publication:  June

Contributions may be sent to: 

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.

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.

NSLC 2019 CfP: Number in Nubian Languages

A number of relevant publications on Nubian number marking has been published over the last few decades. However, this field is still in its infancy. The current wide-spread interest in Nubian languages, both from scholars and native speakers, offers an opportunity to investigate these issues more closely.

We invite scholars, both native and non-native, to submit proposals for the Nubian panel to be held at the 14th Nilo-Saharan Linguistics Colloquium in Vienna (May 30–June 1, 2019), dealing with the category of grammatical number and its morphological, syntactic, and semantic aspects.

Number is often thought of as a grammatical means to distinguish simply between singular and plural. However, many other distinctions on a nominal level can be made, both as regards other forms of number marking such as dual or paucal, and the way number is manifested on the noun phrase and its component parts. Number also appears to be closely related to semantics. Mass nouns such as ‘salt’, ‘water’, ‘clay’ can differ in respect to number marking from count nouns like ‘house’ and ‘child’. Also semantically defined groups of nouns such as body part and kinship terms may select specific number markers. Some languages also have a specific associative number marker to express a group associated with an individual, e.g., ‘Ali and his people’.

In many languages number marking is not confined to nouns. It is also common on adjectives, pronouns (e.g. person, demonstrative, and interrogative pronouns), and verbs. Number on verbs may have two different realizations, agreement marking reflecting the number and person of the subject and verbal number. Verbal number (also known as pluractional) is realized by singular and plural stems or specific morphemes. It can reflect the number of intransitive subjects or transitive objects but also the number of events, e.g., do something once or several times or even at several places.

Questions to be addressed are, for instance: Is number marking obligatory on nouns? Is it regular and productive? Which number values are distinguished? How many different number markers are there on nouns? Do they differ from number markers on other word categories (e.g. adjectives, pronouns, numerals, demonstratives)? Is the selection of specific number markers semantically motivated? Is there number agreement between a noun and its modifiers? Does tonal contrast play a role in number marking? Are there singular and plural verb stems? How are they formed? What triggers the selection of these stems? What is the relation between verbal number and nominal number?

The first page must contain the title of the paper, author’s name, affiliation, postal address and email. The second page must be left anonymous, with only the title of the paper, 3 keywords, and the text of the abstract of no more than 500 words. Data must include interlinear glosses following the Leipzig Glossing Rules. The abstract should be single-spaced and in a Unicode font no smaller than 11 point, and in .pdf or .doc/.docx format.

The Nubian panel organizers will read the abstracts and will inform the authors whether their abstracts are accepted. The abstracts are due by September 30, 2018.

The proceedings of this panel will be edited and published by Dotawo: A Journal of Nubian Studies.

Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei –
Angelika Jakobi –

IMC 2019 CfP: Material Africa: Global Techniques, Influences, and Exchanges

Africa has a rich history of materiality. Not only are numerous African societies long renowned for their material skills, particularly in metal work, African materials have continually been used in workshops further afield, notably gold and ivory. Medieval Africa offers a rich and varied collection of techniques, designs, and uses for objects across its regions for both art and ceremony.

This call for papers seeks contributions for sessions centred on the main strand of the 2019 International Medieval Congress: ‘Materialities’. The aim of the sessions is to bring a diverse selection of research on medieval Africa to the Congress, with topics ranging geographically across Africa from north to south, west to east, and including the story of African objects and craftsmanship outside of Africa. Participants are invited to submit papers addressing all aspects of medieval African materiality, including but not limited to:

  • The journey and circulation of objects
  • Object-making techniques and tools, including small-scale technologies
  • Object-making communities
  • Object-making training, apprenticeship, and education
  • The sourcing of materials
  • Object forms
  • Object influences
  • Object roles
  • Object messages
  • Object design and aesthetics
  • Appropriation of objects by others
  • Object afterlives
  • Contemporary understanding of object significance
  • Intellectual history of objects
  • Indigenous theorization of objects and object making

We welcome proposals for papers of 20 minutes’ length across four sessions from historical, literary, archaeological, philological, art historical and interdisciplinary angles, from scholars of all career stages and research backgrounds.
A bursary to support applicants’ participation may be available.

Abstracts of up to 250 words should be sent to the email account by Sunday, 23rd of September 2018. Please include your preferred paper titleA-V requirements and your contact details (full name, title, affiliation, address, email address).

Organizers / Contacts

Verena Krebs, Ruhr-University Bochum, Germany •

Adam Simmons, Lancaster University, UK •

Abdallah Fili, Chouaib Coukkali University at El-Jadida, Morocco  •

Wendy L. Belcher, Princeton University, USA •

Solomon Gebreyes Beyene, Hamburg University, Germany •

Dotawo CfP on Ethno-Archaeology

Call for papers on Ethnoarchaeology in Nubia and the peripheral regions

The XIIth International Conference on Archeology and History Stood in Antibes (France) in October 1991 was devoted to the following topic : Ethnoarchaeology: justifications, problems, limits. If ethnoarchaeology has supporters and opponents, it is clear that, as was written by Louis Chaix and Hassan Sidi Maamar in the proceedings of this conference (p. 281), “the use of analogy is an integral part of scientific production. (…) The function of analogy is to inspire a new idea and widen the sphere of possibilities. In no event it is to grant certain positions an undeniable status of truth.”

As Eric Huysecom explained in these proceedings (p. 91), “for better efficiency, ethnoarchaeology requires that the archaeologists state their needs in order to guide the research of the ethnoarcheologists. Both disciplines, ethnoarchaeology and archeology, should therefore be pursued simultaneously. Only then patterns highlighted with current populations will become relevant and will apply to the past. ”

Very relevant ethnoarchaeological studies were conducted in the past in Sudan, like for example the analysis of butchery techniques, comparing ethnographic data on the current cutting and archaeozoological study of a funerary context gathered in the Kerma area between 1970 and 1990, a study by Louis Chaix and Hassan Sidi Maamar.

This call for papers aims to update the latest research in ethnoarchaeology in Nubia and in the peripheral regions. We expect articles from designers (ethnoarcheologist, anthropologists, geographers …) and users (archaeologists). For example, how the study of different technical activities (ceramics, metal, basketry, architecture …) from current societies contribute to a comparative ethno-archaeological thoughts? Expectations of the archaeologists and specialists of Nubia to ethnoarchaeology are welcome.


IMC 2018 CfP: What ‘forgotten’ period? Reclaiming the Middle Ages for Africa

Call for Papers

International Medieval Congress
University of Leeds, UK, 2-5 July 2018

Africa has always been a nexus of trade routes, its history entangled with the continents that surround it: Europe, Asia, and America. These connections and interactions, whether productive or brutal, have been reasonably well documented for the classical period as well as from the onset of modern colonialism, but a chronological blank spot lingers on our historical memory. Why is it so difficult to remember the Middle Ages – their beginning, middle, and end – in and for Africa?

The International Medieval Congress in 2018 between 2-5th July 2018 will focus on the theme of ‘Memories’ – and will be an ideal occasion for scholars working on sources and historiography relating to sub-Saharan Africa in the pre-modern period to exchange ideas. We specifically invite scholars working on a wide range of sources relating to Africa to help us re-shape the impression of a purportedly ‘forgotten’ period within the larger historiographical field that focuses on Africa and its interactions with other continents.

We welcome proposals for papers of 20 minutes’ length across four sessions from historical, literary, archaeological, philological, art historical and interdisciplinary angles.

We endeavor to group papers into the following geographical sessions:

  • The Nubia and the Red Sea Region
  • Ethiopia and the Horn
  • From Mogadishu to Sofala: the Swahili Coast, the Indian Ocean and Zimbabwe
  • Empires of the Sahara and Sahel
  • Beyond the Desert Sea: From Ile-Ife to the Kingdom of Kongo

Possible topics include (but are not limited to):

  • The beginning of the Middle Ages: the interface and influence of Greek, Christian, and Arabic cultures with local communities, Trans-Saharan, Red Sea and Western Indian Ocean Trade;
  • The middle of the Middle Ages: topics in Aksumite, Zagwe and early Solomonic history, Nubian Christian kingdoms, Islamic Sultanates of the Horn of Africa, the Swahili city states and Great Zimbabwe, the empires of Ghana, Mali, and Kanem, etc.
  • The end of the Middle Ages: the onset of colonialism, shifting paradigms in trade and power relations
  • Foreign sources on the continent, from China to Latin Europe, and from itineraries to maps

Abstracts of up to 200 words should be sent to the dedicated email account by Monday, 25th of September 2017 (extended deadline!). Please include personal and contact details (including academic affiliation), paper title, abstract, and A-V requirements.

Organizers / Contacts

  • Dr. Verena Krebs, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel / Ruhr-University Bochum, Germany •
  • Dr. Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei, independent scholar •
  • Prof. Dr. Christof Rolker, Bamberg University, Germany •
  • Meseret Oldjira, Princeton University •