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Capital accumulation, 'tribalism', and politics in a Sudanese town (Hassaheisa) : a case study in the political economy of urbanization

El-Mustafa, Mohamed Yousif Ahmed


Mohamed Yousif Ahmed El-Mustafa


Valdo Pons


This thesis is a case study in the political economy of urbanization and urban life in the Sudan. It is both a historical study and "community study" of the town of Hassaheisa in the Gezira Province. The central themes derive from a concern with the nature and determinants of the 'underdevelopment' rather than the 'development' of urbanization. The study focuses on the process of commercial capital accumulation as a major and central aspect of the history of the town's growth and existence. Commercial capital accumulation is identified as a specific process which is dependent upon, and subordinate to, the wider processes of colonial and neo-colonial capitalist accumulation.

The study dwells on the major features of trade in Hassaheisa as it has developed since the establishment of the town by the British colonial administration. Among the most prominent and fundamental feature of trade and commerce are the fact that the rate of commercial capital accumulation has always been low; the main reason for this is that accumulation has taken place under conditions constrained and restricted by government's policies formulated to allow 'development' to fit in with the demands and needs of the world market.

The social, economic, and political behaviours of the town's merchants (who constitute the dominant and central group in the community) are analysed primarily as "responses" to the above constraints and restrictions. The nature of various aspects of the town, and the ideological framework of daily life within it, are explained as functions of the need of merchants to maximize their commercial opportunities. The antagonistic contradictions between the interests of the merchants and those of the "ordinary residents" are thus central topics 2 of investigation and analysis in the study. It dwells in particular on:

(a) The way in which 'tribalism' is created and manipulated by the dominant groups to blur and distort contradictions and differences of interests and,
(b) on various aspects of local life that bear upon opportunities for maintaining control over the institutions of political dominance as vehicles for capital accumulation and instruments for the control and management of the resultant contradictions.


El-Mustafa, M. Y. A. (1983). Capital accumulation, 'tribalism', and politics in a Sudanese town (Hassaheisa) : a case study in the political economy of urbanization. (Thesis). University of Hull. Retrieved from

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Aug 18, 2011
Publicly Available Date Feb 22, 2023
Keywords Political science; Public administration
Public URL
Additional Information Department of Sociology, The University of Hull
Award Date Aug 1, 1983


Thesis (40.4 Mb)

Copyright Statement
© 1983 El-Mustafa, Mohamed Yousif Ahmed. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

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