Christopher Tounsel

  • Fellowship year:2015-2016
  • University: University of Michigan
  • Dissertation Topic/Category: Africa
  • Dissertation Title: The Construction of Religious Nationalism in Southern Sudan, 1898-2011
  • My dissertation investigates the theological underpinnings of Southern Sudanese national-identity formation and the ways in which religious thought enhanced arguments for separation and independence. By showing how Southern Sudanese intellectuals read the Bible to find historical precedents for their sociopolitical circumstances, I link the study of theological insertion with political evolution. As people often drew Biblical parallels along racial (Black and Arab) lines, I also illustrate the ways in which racial and religious identities can combine to motivate revolutionary political action in the modern world. Despite meaningful contributions that racial and religious thought have had in producing Southern Sudanese nationalism, ethnic factionalism has endured and threatens the nation that nationalism envisioned. Thus, I not only examine a particular brand of modern nationalism but also contend that the historical construction of that ideology can offer insights on the evolving conflict and the country's uncertain future.