Past events

RAI Research Seminar: Enrico Ille
Wednesday 06 December 2017, 05:30pm - 07:30pm
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Scorched trees. What date palm fires in Northern Sudan can tell about socio-ecological and political vulnerability

Dr Enrico Ille, Urgent Anthropology Fellow, British Museum and Royal Anthropological Institute.

Wednesday 6 December at 5.30 pm

In recent years, many major fires in Northern Sudan’s date palm groves have been reported, often affecting hundreds or even thousands of trees. The diverging interpretations of reasons behind these events tell not only of different ‘forensic’ approaches, but of a wide range of political, ecological, economic and social issues in the region. Through this case study, the seminar will discuss different forms of vulnerability that emerge in present Northern Sudan. Whether merely anticipated or already tangible, this vulnerability ranges from scenarios of violent relocation for the sake of hydroelectric power stations over widespread voluntary emigration to the impact of environmental changes, whether in form of erratic weather patterns or unfamiliar pests. In any case, these fires seem to accelerate processes of losing economic and social attachment to date palms, a part of the local ecology that has long been central in terms of productivity, social cohesion and cultural symbolism. The presentation is based on several months of qualitative fieldwork in the region between September 2016 and September 2017, added to by documentation from visual, journalistic and social media.

This event is free, but tickets must be booked. To book tickets please go to

Location : Royal Anthropological Institute
50 Fitzroy Street
United Kingdom