2003 Volume 2003 Issue 8-9 Pages 1-11
'Negroid but detribalized' is a term used by the British colonial authorities in Sudan in the 1920s to describe a people of ex-slave stock, who traced their origin back to tribes in the south or the Nuba Mountains but had settled in the north and had lost contact with their origins. Although their presence was virtually neglected in traditional Sudanese historiography, which was dominated by dichotomy between the 'Arab' north and the 'Black' south, these people actually played a significant role in modern Sudanese history, both as a challenge to this very dichotomy between north and south, and as a 'detribalized' and hence, in a sense, modern social force. This paper analyzes the role of these 'negroid but detribalized' people in Sudanese society for the past two centuries. Since the existence of these people provides an alternative approach to issues of 'Sudanese nationalism' or 'Sudanese identity', special attention is paid to the question of their self-consciousness and self identification at successive historical stages.