Culture and Context in Sudan

The Process of Market Incorporation in Dar Masalit

By Dennis Tully

Subjects: Agricultural Economics
Series: SUNY series in Middle Eastern Studies
Paperback : 9780887065040, 306 pages, May 1988
Hardcover : 9780887065026, 306 pages, July 1988

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Table of contents

List of Tables

List of Figures


Chapter 1. World Systems and Local Processes

Chapter 2. Masalit History, Society and Culture

The Masalit and Their Neighbors

Political History and Organization

Local Social Organization

Family and Household


Chapter 3. Dar Masalit in Context: Environment, Ecology and Demography

The Physical Environment: Rainfall and Groundwater

Rainfall Trends

Desertification and the Sahelian Drought

Regional Variation in Dar Masalit

The Goz

The Far North

The South


The Research Site


Chapter 4. Production and Exchange


The Domestic Economy

Women's Daily Domestic Activities

Women's Occasional or Discretionary Activities

Men's Domestic Activities



The Labor Cycle

Agricultural Soils

Land Use According to Soil Type

Other Factors

The Maintenance of Fertility

Yields and Economic Returns

Orchards and Wadi Gardens



Manufacturing and Service Activities

Low Capital Activities

High Capital Activities


History of Trade

Market Structure

Small Trade




Early Migration

Increasing Numbers of Migrants

Pushes and Pulls

Migrant Destinations and Occupations

Migration and Market Incorporation


Chapter 5. Assets and Resources

Land: The Development of Scarcity and its Effect on Rights

Current Patterns of Land Access and Distribution



Inequality, Past and Present

Classes, Nascent Classes, or No-classes?


Chapter 6. The Transformation of Masalit Economy and Society





This book illustrates that external factors, especially international political processes interacting with large-scale ecological and demographic changes, are the primary cause of problems experienced by the Masalit and other people in the Third World. The Masalit are Muslim farmers formerly independent as part of the sultanate of Dar Fur. Tully examines the local processes by which the Masalit became economically, politically, and culturally incorporated into the Sudan, and thus into a nexus of global forces.

Culture and Context in Sudan clarifies the complicated macro-micro linkages responsible for the continuing environmental degradation, increasing inequality, and cultural assimilation that is so detrimental to the people of Dar Masalit. The author analyzes new data as well as previously-existing information to demonstrate the multi-level process of change and how it determines individual choices.


Tully provides an interesting balance between detailed description and theoretical framework. He takes a macro-global hypothesis and discusses it on the level of actual micro, or human, experience. I believe that this makes a significant contribution to the fields of both global economic study and modern Sudanese studies. " — John Voll

"This is a clearly written and well argued case study of the impact of the world capitalist system on local economy and social structure in a Third World context. The author convincingly demonstrates the linkage between the incorporation of rural communities into world systems and the development of under-development. " — Amal Rassam

"This is an original and innovative work, combining theory and data in sensible and intelligent ways, and challenging some orthodox ideas about Third World development. " — Simon Ottenberg

"Culture and Context in Sudan is a first-class, substantive economic ethnography which contributes to the understanding of a region of considerable ethnic and political complexity. " — Dale Eickelman