MESA Book Awards
Heather J. Sharkey
University of Pennsylvania
2003 Albert Hourani Book Award Honorable Mention
This well-written, far-reaching, and thoughtful history of the Sudan blends together and critically applies insights from studies based on concepts of class, gender, and race. The author persuasively argues for links between the rise of nationalism and the formation of nation-states and colonial policy, bringing into focus the role of economic class in nationalist politics. Dr. Sharkey also carefully discusses cultural history, including sports, literature, clothing, and films. The author offers new theoretical and methodological perspectives that lead to breakthroughs in understanding the way modern societies work.
The book is centered on the creation of a Sudanese bureaucracy, but it also provides a remarkable new view of the creation of nationalism and national identity and their relationship to colonialism, while discussing the origins of the problems that ultimately led to a disastrous civil war. Dr. Sharkey has shown clearly and concretely the ways in which colonialism and nationalism are intertwined not only at the level of political history but also of culture. Theories of nationalism and post-colonial status are cogently integrated into the main inquiry of the book, while the writing remains both lucid and accessible. Although specifically a case study of the Sudan, the book contains implications for colonial, post-colonial, and nationalism studies in many parts of the world.