Hengameh Ziai

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Columbia U.

Grant number

Gr. 9484

Approve Date

April 26, 2017

Project Title

Ziai, Hengameh, Columbia U., New York, NY - To aid research on ''The Indebted Peasant': An Ethnography of Neoliberalism in Sudan's Gezira Scheme,' supervised by Dr. Timothy Mitchell

HENGAMEH ZIAI, then a graduate student at Columbia University, New York, New York, received a grant in April 2017 to aid research on ”The Indebted Peasant’: An Ethnography of Neoliberalism in Sudan’s Gezira Scheme,’ supervised by Dr. Timothy Mitchell. This project investigates attempts to produce neoliberal subjectivity amongst the peasants in the Gezira Agricultural Scheme in northern Sudan. It historically situates the transformations taking place by considering the longer context of indebtedness and resistance in the region. As such, in terms of methodology, the project includes a combination of archival and ethnographic work. The first six months of fieldwork were based in Turkey, Egypt, and Sudan. The archival component was overall very successful. Documents relating to the Mahdiyya were found in the Ottoman Presidential Archives, written from the perspective of Istanbul. In Sudan, both the Mahdist Archives and the Gezira Scheme Archives at the National Records Office provided a rich source on the history of indebtedness in Sudan’s Gezira plain. Moreover, coming across a private collection’the Abdallah Bey Hamza collection’of commercial, financial and legal documents, provided a rare and unique source on the history of debt, land and trade. Unfortunately, attempts to access the archives in Egypt were difficult. In terms of the ethnographic component, successful interviews were conducted on the Gezira scheme with farmers, laborers and activists, narrating the changes that have taken place there following the Scheme’s ‘neoliberalization.’