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The Root Causes of Sudan's Civil Wars


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Sudan's post-independence history has been dominated by political and civil strife. Most commentators have attributed the country's recurring civil war either to an age-old racial divide between Arabs and Africans, or to recent colonially constructed inequalities. This book attempts a more complex analysis, briefly examining the historical, political, economic and social factors which have contributed to periodic outbreaks of violence between the state and its peripheries. In tracing historical continuities, it outlines the essential differences between the modern Sudan's first civil war in the 1960s and the current war. It also looks at the series of minor civil wars generated by, and contained within, the major conflict, as well as the regional and international factors - including humanitarian aid - which have exacerbated civil violence. This introduction is aimed at students of North-East Africa, and of conflict and ethnicity. It should be useful for people in aid and international organizations who need a straightforward analytical survey which will help them assess the prospects for a lasting peace in Sudan.

Douglas H. Johnson is an independent scholar and former international expert on the Abyei Boundaries Commission.


By updating the book to include southern Sudan's independence, Johnson has given us a very important and useful survey history of Sudan. AFRICAN STUDIES QUARTERLY

There is nothing to compare with The Root Causes, and it remains essential reading for anyone interested in the history of the civil wars. AFRICAN STUDIES REVIEW

Recommended. CHOICE

Much the most useful telling of the whole course of the SPLA war and the historical background to that war.

Anyone wanting to understand this African tragedy should read Douglas Johnson's The Root Causes of Sudan's Civil Wars ...a brilliant analysis of the war and its causes written in simple, clear prose. THE ECONOMIST
Douglas Johnson has written a landmark book that deserves not only to change the nature of Sudan studies but how we think of war, peace and development generally. It is a task for which he is well qualified. As a historian with an anthropologist's eye, his interests span pre-colonial, colonial and post-colonial conditions. Unique among contemporary writers, Johnson has not only made major contributions to the historiography of Sudan and the interpretation of its rich ethnography, he has also worked for the aid agencies that now populate much of this country. From this wide vantage point Johnson's critical book succeeds in rescuing Sudan from the heart of darkness that continues to be conjured by whistle-stop journalists and self-serving NGOs. [...] Douglas Johnson has written an important book. Not least, because it brings politics back into the North-South equation. Mark Duffield in JOURNAL OF REFUGEE STUDIES
This authoritative and detailed study of Sudan's contemporary conflicts aims to discourage quick fix thinking by tracing the historical patterns of power and politics that have brought the country to its current impasse. [...] Students and researchers will benefit from the extended bibliographic essay and chronology included in this excellent book. FOREIGN AFFAIRS


First Published: 16 Jun 2011
13 Digit ISBN: 9781847010292
Pages: 256
Size: 21.6 x 13.8
Binding: Paperback
Imprint: James Currey
BIC Class: GTB

Details updated on 26 Apr 2016


  • 1  Preface to the Revised Edition
  • 2  The Historical Structure of North-South Relations
  • 3  British Overrule 1899-1947
  • 4  Nationalism, Independence & the First Civil War 1942-72
  • 5  The Addis Ababa Agreement & the Regional Governments 1972-83
  • 6  The Beginning of the Second Civil War 1983-85 - Interlude -
  • 7  The Momentum of Liberation 1986-91
  • 8  The SPLA Split: Surviving Factionalism
  • 9  The Segmentation of SPLA- United & the Nuer Civil War
  • 10  Multiple Civil Wars
  • 11  The War Economy & the Politics of Relief
  • 12  Comprehensive Peace or Temporary Truce? - Bibliographic Essay - Appendix: Chronology of Events

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