Press Release: Savoirs and Survivors — Darfur, Politics, and the War on Terror By Mahmood Mamdani

From Mahmood Mamdani, the author of the highly praised Good Muslim, Bad Muslim, comes SAVIORS AND SURVIVORS: Darfur, Politics, and the War on Terror (Pantheon Books/March 17, 2009/$26.95), a groundbreaking and definitive analysis of the crisis in Darfur that considers, unlike any other book on the subject, the events of the last few years within the broad context of the history of Sudan, and that examines the efficacy of the world’s response to the crisis.

Mamdani has written an important and provocative work that goes against the grain of what is perceived as the current situation in Darfur. Illuminating the deeply rooted causes of the current conflict, Mamdani explains how it began as a civil war (1987-89) triggered by a severe drought. The war’s effects were shaped by how British colonial officials had tribalized Darfur, dividing its population between “native” and “settler” tribes, creating homelands for the former at the expense of the latter. The war intensified in the 1990s when the Sudanese government tried, unsuccessfully, to address this problem by creating homelands for tribes without any. The involvement of opposition parties gave rise in 2003 to two rebel movements, leading to a brutal insurgency and a horrific counterinsurgency—but not to genocide, as the West has declared.

Mamdani explains how the Cold War exacerbated the forty-year civil war in Chad, viciously affecting neighboring Darfur. By 2003, the conflict involved national, regional, and global forces, including the powerful Western lobby, which called for a military invasion dressed up as a “humanitarian intervention.”

SAVIORS AND SURVIVORS radically alters our understanding of the ongoing crisis in Darfur.

About Mahmood Mamdani
Mamdani is Herbert Lehman Professor of Government and a member of the departments of anthropology; political science; and Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures (MEALAC) and the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University. His previous books include Good Muslim, Bad Muslim, Citizen and Subject, and When Victims Become Killers. From Uganda, he now divides his time between New York and Kampala.

Publicity Contact
Michiko Clark

Pantheon Books

Mahmood Mamdani Events

Thursday, March 19—Chicago
6:00 pm–Seminary Co-op Bookstore event cosponsored by World Beyond the Headlines. 5757 S. University Avenue, Chicago, IL 60637

Friday, March 20—Washington, DC
7:00 pm–Politics and Prose Bookstore event. 5015 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington DC 20008.

Monday, March 23—New York
7:30 pm–Barnes and Noble, Upper West Side event. 2289 Broadway (at 82nd)

Thursday, April 2—Boston
7:00 pm–Harvard Books event. 1256 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02138

Friday, April 10—San Francisco
7:30 pm–Berkeley Arts & Letters at the Berkeley City Club event. 2315 Durant Avenue, Berkeley 94704

Saturday, April 11—Seattle
7:00 pm–Elliot Bay Book Company event. 101 South Main Street, Seattle WA 98104


“The importance of the book is not only that it provides a context for the violence in Darfur—it is also the first work to critically conceptualize the shape of the post Cold War international order. The critique of humanitarian interventionism and the difference between ‘survivors’ justice’ and the justice of revenge is particularly important. This is a work of incredible political courage.”—Amitov Ghosh, author of The Glass Palace and Sea of Poppies

“Mamdani traces the path to the Darfur tragedy through its historical and colonial roots to the current situation, where drought and desertification have led to conflict over land among local tribes, rebellion, and finally to the brutal involvement of the forces of the state and to the efforts of the United Nations and others to help the victims and stop the violence. His radical reevaluation of the Darfur problem is a major contribution to understanding and, it is to be hoped, to ending a shocking human disaster.”
—Sir Brian Urquhart, former Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations

“An incisive and challenging analysis. Framing both Darfur’s war and the ‘Save Darfur’ movement within the paradigm of the West’s historic colonial encounter with Africa, Mahmood Mamdani challenges the reader to reconsider whether Darfur’s crisis is ‘genocide’ warranting foreign military intervention.”
—Alex de Waal, Fellow at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and author of War in Darfur

“Mahmood Mamdani has turned his fearless independence of mind on Darfur, Sudan, and the so-called ‘War on Terror,’ producing a book that is as passionate and well-informed as it is intelligent and (for those used only to surface orthodoxies) challenging.”
—Conor Gearty, Director of the Centre for the Study of Human Rights at the London School of Economics

“A brilliantly argued and profoundly challenging critique of liberal support for humanitarian intervention in Darfur. Beyond this, Mamdani sets forth an alternative approach to such catastrophic situations. This book should be required reading for the Obama foreign policy team.”
—Richard Falk, United Nations Special Rapporteur and Professor Emeritus, Princeton University

“A bold, near brilliant re-examination of the conflict in Darfur . . . Essential reading for those interested in the topic.”—Publishers Weekly

“A necessary contribution to the literature surrounding both humanitarian aid and African geopolitics.”
Kirkus Reviews

“By providing broader context, Mamdani brings fresh perspective to conflict in this troubled region.”—Booklist