The cultural politics of language in Sudan: against the racialising logic of language rights

Ashraf Abdelhay, Nada Eljak, Abdel Rahim Mugaddam, Sinfree Makoni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The sociolinguistic repertoires of individuals in Sudan are products of institutionalised orders of normalisation. The visibility of language in popular and official discourses in Sudan is always linked with wider cultural and political projects. This paper intends to engage with and explicate this observation by, first, examining how the dominant ideology of language operates in practice in Sudan, and second, by inspecting how it is contextually negotiated, appropriated, and resisted by social individuals. Our guiding questions are: (1) How is the hegemonic ideology of language in Sudan enacted, appropriated and resisted in concrete verbal interaction and other metalinguistic activities? (2) How can social groups and individuals exploit the dynamic nature of language not just to defend the right to develop their languages beyond the polarising terms (e.g. Arabic vs. African) constructed by interest-oriented ideologies, but most importantly to do politics through the dominant regime of language? We argue for a recognition of ‘difference’ within a historically established frame of diversity rather than a culturalist model of naturally fixed homogeneities This paper is an exercise in semiotic ideological analysis within the framework of cultural politics which views language as a proxy for doing politics by culture.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)346-359
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 21 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language


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