Book launch: Water, Civilisation and Power in Sudan

In 1989, a secretive movement of Islamists allied itself to a military cabal to violently take power in Africa’s biggest country. Sudan’s revolutionary regime was built on four pillars – a new politics, economic liberalisation, an Islamic revival, and a U-turn in foreign relations – and mixed militant conservatism with social engineering: a vision of authoritarian modernisation. Water and agricultural policy have been central to this state-building project. Going beyond the conventional lenses of famine, ‘water wars’ or the oil resource curse, Harry Verhoeven links environmental factors, development, and political power. Based on years of unique access to the Islamists, generals, and business elites at the core of the Al-Ingaz Revolution, Verhoeven tells the story of one of Africa’s most ambitious state-building projects in the modern era – and how its gamble to instrumentalise water and agriculture to consolidate power is linked to twenty-first-century globalisation, Islamist ideology, and intensifying geopolitics of the Nile.

The book:

>relies on an extraordinary set of interviews with key decision-makers inside and outside Sudan;
>underlines a different set of linkages between Sudan’s environmental factors, development and political power;
>tells the story of one of Africa’s most ambitious state-building projects in the modern era.

Harry Verhoeven is a Post-doctoral Research Fellow at the Department of Politics and International Relations where he teaches African Politics. His research focuses on conflict, development and environment in the Horn of Africa and the Great Lakes Region and he is the Convenor of the Oxford University China-Africa Network (OUCAN). Outside academia, he has worked in Northern Uganda, Sudan, India and Democratic Republic of Congo.