Accepted paper:

Crying out for justice: The pain of forced eviction in rural Sudan and the turn to demands for transnational responsibility


Valerie Hänsch (LMU Munich)

Paper short abstract:

Based on ethnographic research, the paper discusses experiences of dam-caused displacements in rural Sudan and explores how sentiments of justice/injustice are expressed in terms of international normative orders and calls for responsibility.

Paper long abstract:

With the support of foreign companies, the Sudanese government is currently pursuing to implement "high modernist" hydrological projects for the development of the Sudan. The dam-affected peasant communities in the northern Nile Valley were promised a better future in "modern cities" located in places far away from the Nile. While the people were struggling for just modalities of compensation and for receiving feasible resettlement options around the future lake, the river Nile was impounded and flooded the inhabited villages. Confronted with destruction and crisis, the forcibly evicted inhabitants expressed their feelings of alienation, fear and anger at the dispossession and displacement in terms of human rights and calls for accountability. The paper explores the political context and sentiments of injustice and the way how these are translated into claims of liability and compliance with internationally standardized norms of human rights and resettlement. Referring to "notions of responsibility" (J. Eckert 2016), I will argue that not only governments are regarded as responsible for harmful actions but also corporate actors. I will show that the search for justice, that is grounded in experiences of being drowned out, finally translated into legal action as form of protest. Together with a German NGO, representatives of the displaced people filed a criminal complaint against the managers of the German dam-building company in Frankfurt am Main.

panel P066
Sentiments of Justice in Africa: Contestations at the Intersection of Rural and Urban Imaginations