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Title:Cotton and colonial order in Sudan: a social history with emphasis on the Gezira Scheme
Author:Bernal, VictoriaISNI
Book title:Cotton, colonialism, and social history in sub-Saharan Africa / ed. by Allen Isaacman and Richard Roberts. - Portsmouth, N.H.: Heinemann
Geographic terms:Sudan
Great Britain
agricultural projects
Abstract:This chapter explores the colonial history of irrigated cotton production in the Sudan, according particular attention to the Gezira Scheme, which was opened in 1925. One strand of the analysis concerns what might be called 'colonial moral economy'. It is often taken for granted that Western colonial economic policy is guided by rational calculation and narrowly economic goals. However, attention to the cultural meanings expressed by the British through and about this colonial project - creating a whole society structured around the production of cotton - reveals the irrigated schemes as embodying far more than the simple economic interests of a ruling power. The Gezira and other cotton schemes cannot be understood solely as economic ventures; they were part of the larger colonial project of establishing a political order. The second strand of the analysis explores the conflict between the monolithic, official structure of the cotton schemes, envisioned and to some extent imposed by colonialists, and the dynamic, heterogeneous economic world of Sudanese peasants. While complex indigenous systems of production and reproduction were disrupted, and in some cases destroyed, by the imposition of the cotton schemes, Sudanese peasants on the schemes devised new economic strategies that challenged the colonial cotton regime. Notes, ref.