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Accepted Paper:

The 'Arabs versus African' dichotomy in the Darfur conflict  
Regine Penitsch (Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology)

Paper long abstract:

The international media presents the conflict in Darfur as one between the Sudanese government backed by Arab militias on one side, and African insurgents on the other. In this paper I argue that the "Arabs versus Africans" explanation is a simplification, but there are reasons why it exists. I show the historical emergence of this dichotomy and argue that this polarization of identities is not a root cause but an outcome of the conflict in Darfur. I demonstrate that it can be upheld only by concealing crucial facts that do not fit the dichotomy. These omissions in the narrative about the Darfur conflict serve political elites involved in the civil war as instruments in complex power struggles. My aim with the disentanglement of the Arab-African-dichotomy may support a better understanding of the needs, motivations and aims of the different actors involved in the conflict and its ongoing dynamics.

Panel W078
Anthropology of categories in peace and conflict
  Session 1