Dynamics of Identity Construction among the Ethnic Communities in Darfur: A Conflict-based Perspective

Keywords: Identity construction; ethnic community; conflict; Darfur; Sudan


This paper investigates dynamics adopted by nine ethnolinguistic communities affected by the current conflict in South Darfur State to construct their ethnic identities. Qualitative data were obtained via focus group discussions, interviews, posters from the landscape, and observation over a period spanning from 2012 to 2013. The findings show that, firstly, there were unprecedented micro-interethnic identity construction dynamics across the study area. Secondly, within these interethnic identities, there were also emerging intra-ethnic identities – all spurred by the wholesale community ethnicisation processes. Thirdly, revitalization of ethnolinguistic identity was found to be the major tool employed by the communities under study, with varying degrees, to establish their distinct identities. Fourthly, ethnolinguistic identities constructed varied from one group to another, ranging from ‘strong’ to ‘moderate’ and ‘weak’, depending on the community’s ethnolinguistic vitality. The paper concluded that the major factor in the emergence of these micro inter- or intra-ethnic identities was the current conflict in Darfur.


Download data is not yet available.


Metrics Loading ...

Author Biographies

Abdelrahim Hamid Mugaddam, Jouf University - Sudan

Professor of linguistics at Jouf University, Saudi Arabia/Khartoum University, Sudan. Professor Mugaddam has a number of publications in local, regional, and international journals.

Dhahawi Garri, Nyala University - Sudan

Associate professor of English language at Nyala University, Sudan. Dr. Gari has a number of publications on different issues related to Linguistics and English language teaching.



Aguda, O. (1973). Arabism and Pan-Arabism in Sudanese Politics. The Journal of Modern African Studies, 11(2). 177-200. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0022278X00008272

Appel, R. & Muysken, P. (1987). Language Contact and Bilingualism. Arrowsmith Ltd.

de Waal, A. (2005). Who are the Darfurians? Arab and African Identities, Violence and External Engagement. African Affairs, 104(415), 181-205. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/afraf/adi035

Ehala, M., & Zabrodskaja, A. (2011). The Impact of Inter-ethnic Discordance on Subjective Vitality Perceptions. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 32(2), 121-136. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/01434632.2010.541915

Ehala, M. (2010). Ethnolinguistic Vitality and Intergroup processes. Multilingual, 29(9), 203-221. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/mult.2010.009

Eriksen, T. (1992). Linguistic Hegemony and Minority Resistance. Journal of Peace Research, 29(3), 313-332. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0022343392029003007

Gal, S., & Judith, I. (1995). The Boundaries of Languages and Disciplines: how ideologies construct differences. Social Research, 62(4), 967

Giles, H., Bourhis, R. & Tylor, D. (1977). Towards a Theory of Language in Ethnic Group Relations. In H. Giles (ed.), Language, Ethnicity and Intergroup Relations. Academic Press.

Goldschmidt, M. (2003). Identifying Labels among University Students in the New South Africa: A Retrospective Study. Journal of Black Studies, 34(2), 204-221. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0021934703255314

Ioratim-Uba, G. (2009). Language Endangerment and the Violent Ethnic Conflict Link in Middle Belt Nigeria. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 30(5), 437-452. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/01434630903000089

Jenkins, R. (1996). ‘Us’ and ‘Them’: Ethnicity, Racism and Ideology. In R. Barot (ed.), The Racism Problematic: Contemporary Sociological Debates on Race and Ethnicity. Edward Mellen Press.

Joseph, J. (2004). Language and Identity: National, Ethnic and Religious. Palgrave McMillan.

Mack, N., Woodsong, C., Macqueen, K., Guest, G., and Namey, E. (2005). Research Methods: A Data Collector’s Field Guide. Family Health International.

MacMichael, H. (1967). A History of the Arabs in the Sudan and some Account of the Peoples Who Proceeded them and of the Tribes Inhabiting Darfur. Frank Kass & Co. Ltd.

Mar-Molinero, C. (2000). The Politics of Language in the Spanish-Speaking World. Routledge.

May, S. (2008). Language and Minority Rights: Ethnicity, Nationalism and Politics of Language. Rutledge.

Miller, C., & Abu-Manga, A. (1992). Language Change and National Integration: Rural Migrants in Khartoum. Khartoum University Press.

Mohamed, A. (2008). Scientific Research Methods in Social Sciences. Public Administration and Federalism Studies Institute.

Mugaddam, A. (2002). Language Maintenance and Shift in Sudan: The Case of Ethnic Minority Groups in Greater Khartoum. [PhD Dissertation, University of Khartoum].

Nagel, J. (1994). Constructing Ethnicity: Creating and Recreating Ethnic Identity and Culture, A Special Issue on Immigration, Race, ethnicity in American. Social Problems, 41(1), 152-176. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1525/sp.1994.41.1.03x0430n

Rahman, T. (1996). Language and Politics in Pakistan. Oxford University Press.

Rejito, A. (1987). Language Use and Attitude towards Languages in Akaki Textile Factory: A Sociolinguistic Survey. [PhD Dissertation, University of Khartoum].

Renan, E. (1990). What is a Nation? In H. Bhabha (ed.), Nation and Narration. Routledge.

Silverstein, M., (1996). Monoglot standard in America: standardization and metaphors of linguistic hegemony. In D. Brenneis, R. Macaulay (Eds.), The Matrix of Language. (pp. 284–306) Westview. DOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9780429496288-18

Tayie, S. (2005). Research Methods and Writing Research Proposals. Centre for Advancement of Postgraduate Studies and Research in Engineering Sciences.

Thornborrow, J. (1999). Language and Identity. In L. Thomas and S. Wareing (eds.), Language, Society and Power: An Introduction. Routledge.

Williams, E. (2009) Language Attitudes and Identity in a North Wales Town: Something Different about Caernarfon?. International Journal of the Sociology of Language. 195, 63–91 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/IJSL.2009.006

Woolard, K., & Gahng, T. (1990). Changing Policies and Attitudes in Autonomous Catalonia, Language in Society, 19( 3), 311-330. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0047404500014536

Wright, S. (1997b). Language as a Contributing Factor in Conflicts between States and Within States, Current Issues in Language and Society, 4(3), 215-237. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/13520529709615499

Yagmur, K., & Ehala, M. (2011). Tradition and Innovation in the Ethnolinguistic Vitality Theory, Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 32(2), 101-110. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/01434632.2010.541913

How to Cite
Hamid Mugaddam, A., & Garri, D. (2022). Dynamics of Identity Construction among the Ethnic Communities in Darfur: A Conflict-based Perspective . Religación, 7(32), e21920. https://doi.org/10.46652/rgn.v7i32.920