Language, communication technologies and identity in South Kordofan, Sudan

This project will investigate the changing role of language and communication in processes of identification among the Moro inhabitants of the Nuba Mountains in Sudan, a site of recent conflict and ongoing political insecurity. Specifically, the role of language, literacy, and new/small media will be considered as “technologies” that potentially reflect, reinforce, and shape collective identities.
The diverse Nuba groups were originally non-Muslim, non-Arab agriculturalists. They speak around 50 distinct languages and come from as many ethnic groups. In spite of colonial policies of isolation – and through the adoption of Arabic and Islam and migration to urban centers – they have increasingly integrated into the Sudanese social and cultural mainstream. Thus, Arabization has been a long-standing process for socio-economic enhancement, a “connection” to greater social benefits and, for some, an ideological process.

However, some Nuba communities such as the Moro appear to be endorsing the use of their local languages in various ways, e.g. the promotion of literacy in the Moro language and the establishment of a website dedicated to Moro culture and language. The availability of new ICTs (information and communication technologies) is influencing how people interact, how new forms of solidarity may emerge.
Through a close ethnographic and linguistic analysis of communicative practices, this project hopes to disentangle the various processes occurring there. It will be necessary to identify the factors related to material and social benefits, political orientation, gender, education, kinship, tribe, religion and other emotional attachments, which will differ across personal and collective histories, people’s experience in the recent civil war, and ideologies for the future.

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