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Accepted Paper:

“This is the peoples’ club!” − Sensing revolutionary spaces of hope in the struggle to re-appropriate public places in Sudan  
Valerie Haensch (Anthropological Museum Berlin)

Paper short abstract:

Moving beyond the sit-in of Sudan’s December Revolution, this paper explores the ongoing struggle to re-appropriate privatised public clubs for the common good by examining aesthetic activist practices that convey a sense of hope and change.

Paper long abstract:

Since the start of the December Revolution in 2018 and the overthrow of president Omar al-Bashir during the sit-in in Khartoum in 2019, competing struggles over access to and control of public spaces have been going on between supporters of the ousted Islamist regime and supporters of the revolutionary movement. In the 30 years of its rule, the old regime had increasingly privatised public spaces such as clubs and parks for monetary purposes and restricted public access. In this paper, I discuss the struggles to reclaim the famous family club in Khartoum through aesthetic practices. Neighbourhood resistance committees, activists, residents and artists occupied the club by painting revolutionary murals and organised public discussions, concerts, art exhibitions and everyday events for children and adults - activities which had been banned and labeled by the previous regime as “un-Islamic”. The impulses to reinterpret this place as a place of people were interrupted and challenged by the military coup in October 2021. Based on ethnographic research, I will explore the process of re-appropriation as a struggle to realise “concrete utopias” (Bloch 1959) of the ongoing revolution and ask how the perceived space and aesthetic practices create shifting experiences of hope and despair for the activists and residents involved.

Panel P004a
(Re)claiming Spaces of Hope and Inspiration: Protest and Revolutionary Aesthetics I
  Session 1 Wednesday 27 July, 2022, -