Association for Political and Legal Anthropology
Oral Presentation Session
Branding Humanity: Toward an Inclusive Politics of Rights
Human rights and humanitarian politics not only prove to be insufficient in the case of the Sudan, rather they have remained yoked to existing social divisions and identity politics in order to further larger moral claims about regional alliances and transnational sovereignties. These politics decontextualized the history of war and conflict in the country, especially before Sudan’s partition in 2011, by situating violence in the realms of human rights practices and humanitarian compassion. I argue that the deployment of this form of affective violence within the temporary humanitarian publics built by civic organizations, activists, and NGOs to contest the Islamist regime ultimately produces new gendered, racialized, and ethnicized categories of subjects, celebrities, and role models.
However, against the backdrop of the exclusionary discourses and practices of the Islamists and their human rights and humanitarian rivals, there exists a vibrant translocal and diaspora publics that continue to protest these two dominant exclusionary visions. The ongoing protests in the Sudan and in the diaspora are clear examples of the insufficiency of these two clashing visions. Sudanese secular Muslims and non-Muslims, citizens and non-citizens deploy various strategies, discourses, practices, and traditions in order to make their voices heard. The current protests in the Sudan, the visibility of diaspora activists, and the different technologies these activists employ direct attention to a varied landscape of rights politics that explains why human rights alone cannot withstand the multiple layers of oppressions and disparities produced in this authoritarian age.