In This Review

The Sudan: Contested National Identities
The Sudan: Contested National Identities
By Ann Mosely Lesch
Indiana University Press, 1999, 336 pp

This highly informative work digs into the intricate history of Sudanese politics. Lesch brings a welcome clarity to Sudan's tangle of political, ethnic, and religious problems by concentrating on the country's central dilemma: the inability of its leaders to negotiate a common definition of nationhood. She follows this theme through the postindependence years, tracing the ebb and flow of the country's civil war against the background of party and factional alignments. These divisions reflect varying visions of Sudan as a secular, pluralistic democracy versus a culturally homogeneous nation that erases minority identities in favor of a hegemonic Arab-Islamic nationalism. This conceptual framework, which Sudanese scholar Francis M. Deng has also elaborated, provides a fundamental orientation that other works could incorporate to their benefit.