Book Review: Saviors and Survivors: Darfur, Politics and the War on Terror
Saviors and survivors lays the foundation for a welcome interrogation of the identity, motivations and actions of members of the United States’ Save Darfur Coalition, the selfstyled ‘saviours’ of the book’s title. Mahmood Mamdani argues that America’s domestic determination to define and intervene in the supposed Darfur genocide is based not on knowledge, but rather on historically unfounded assumptions reproduced and solidified in light of contemporary geopolitics. More controversially perhaps, Mamdani suggests that a failure to understand the complexities of the conflict ‘has turned the movement to Save Darfur into the humanitarian face of the War on Terror’ (p. 6). Nonetheless, Mamdani rightly demands the historical contextualization of the conflict, dedicating five of eight chapters to tracing the precolonial, colonial and postcolonial development of Darfuri land and tribal politics, and noting the extent to which contemporary violence is a continuation of longstanding struggles over access to and use of land.