“Darfurians in South Sudan: Negotiating Belonging in Two Sudans” is about the construction of citizenship, identities and belonging at a moment of profound political change: the secession of South Sudan from the Republic of Sudan (Sudan or North Sudan) that took place on 9 July 2011.
The division of Sudan has had a huge impact on all Sudanese people, whether those perceived as “southern” who now find themselves stranded and rejected as foreigners in the North, “northerners” who do not identify with a repressive Sudanese government, new South Sudanese citizens returning to a newly configured South Sudan, or those displaced by the multiple and growing conflicts across Darfur and the border regions of South Kordofan and Blue Nile states. Beneath the surface of political change are multiple narratives and stories of individuals and groups who do not necessarily conform to tidy political categories, who find themselves in circumstances in which state-centric articulations of citizenship do not adequately reflect their circumstances, and who simply do not belong.
Based on 104 interviews with Darfurians displaced from Darfur, this paper explores one such narrative: the way in which Darfurians living in the South perceive, and are negotiating, their position within the new political configuration of South Sudan – whether temporarily or permanently. The paper argues that the treatment of the relatively small number of Darfurians in South Sudan represents something significant: by emphasising a state built on inclusion rather than exclusion, the fledgling South will enhance its ability to develop into a robust and sustainable political, economic and social community in which diversity is recognised as an asset rather than a threat, and core principles such as protection and the granting of asylum are upheld.