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Christopher Tounsel

Christopher Tounsel

Assistant Professor of History and African Studies

Office Phone: (814) 865-1367


 I am an historian of modern Sub-Saharan Africa with research interests in South Sudan, Christianity, Race, and Imperialism. My work moves beyond the ³Arab v. Black and Christianity v. Islam² narrative of Sudanese history by exploring the ways in which religious thought became an arena to define and approach race.  The manuscript for my first book examines the ways in which Biblical themes and idioms were adopted to enhance arguments for Southern Sudanese self-determination and sovereignty. It considers how a wide range of actors in organizations like the Catholic Church, Anyanya guerrilla army, and Sudan People¹s Liberation Movement (SPLM/A) used theology to interpret their circumstances, script action, and define a future that often conflated spiritual liberation with political reformation and revolution. I suggest that the recent explosion of ethnic factionalism in South Sudan reflects historical efforts to define and reinforce ethnicities as distinct social groups and the emergence of ŒSouthern Sudanese¹ as a racial and national category. In turn, my study points to the strengths and limitations of deploying racial and religious thought as instruments for nation-making.