Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology and African Studies Program, New College
Nisrin Elamin is an assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology and the African Studies Program. Her work investigates the connections between land, race, belonging and empire-making in Sudan and the broader Sahel region. She uses land and struggles over land as a lens through which to examine state surveillance of Sahelian migration as well as Gulf Arab corporate investments and political interventions in Sudan and neighboring countries.
She is currently working on a book project based on 15 months of ethnographic fieldwork in central Sudan, where she conducted research in local courts, farming communities, investor conferences, agribusiness farms, government ministries, and in the zawiyas of Sufi religious leaders mediating land disputes in the aftermath of large-scale land enclosures. The book examines the ways landless and landholding communities are negotiating and contesting changes in land ownership prompted by a recent wave of domestic and Gulf Arab corporate investments in Sudanese land. It situates contemporary, state-driven “land grabs” in the agricultural Gezira region of central Sudan within a layered history of enclosures and unequal landed relations shaped by legacies of enslavement and colonial rule. Methodologically, it combines a multi-sited ethnographic study of gendered and racialized forms of land dispossession with a historical analysis of ways the Gezira has been imagined as the answer to various colonial and post-colonial development visions and empire-making projects. Before pursuing a PhD, Elamin spent over a decade working as an educator, researcher and organizer in the United States and taught for several years in Tanzania. Prior to joining the University of Toronto, she taught at Bryn Mawr College and was a postdoctoral fellow in the Society of Fellows at Columbia University.