In addition to the institutions funding the work by Randi and Gunnar Haaland in Darfur, the University of Bergen and the University of Khartoum provided working conditions with good opportunities to pursue studies in the region.
In their work they benefited from stimuli and assistance from several individuals. Their Sudan involvement started with Fredrik Barth’s association with the University of Khartoum. His fieldwork in Darfur (1964) was the basis for his and Gunnar Haaland’s engagement with FAO (1965 -1966). During their academic careers, Fredrik Barth constantly stimulated Randi and Gunnar Haaland to ponder on their observation from different conceptual perspectives.
At the University of Bergen several scholars and students from various disciplines played important roles in shaping their theoretical/methodological and empirical orientation.
Gunnar’s first meeting with the University of Khartoum staff was extremely stimulating. The Department of Anthropology was a vibrant institute with scholars like Ian Cunnison, Talal Assad, Wendy James and later Taj el Ambia, Fahima Zahir and Abdul Ghaffar Ahamad. Scholars from other disciplines like Yussif Fadl Hasan and Omar Beshir (History), David Pool (Political Science), Ibrahim Hassan Abdul Gelil and Tijani Seise (Business administration), and Robin Thelwell (linguistics) contributed in important ways to shape his research activities.
Before Randi Haaland went to Sudan as lecturer at the Department of Archaeology in 1972, she had written her thesis based on material from the Scandinavian Joint Expedition to Nubia. Anders Hagen and Knut Odner at the Archaeology Department, Richard Pierce at Department of Classical studies, and Hans Åke Nordstøm at Uppsala University played important roles in stimulating her thesis work.
When she came to the University of Khartoum in 1972, Peter Shinnie had recently established the Department of Archaeology. Randi together with the head of department, Ahmad Hakim, played a main role in the first phase of its development. Permission to excavate archaeological sites was however difficult to obtain until the Polish Expedition for Mediterranean Archaeology under its leader Lech Krzyzaniak included her as member (1973 – 1975) of their team in a large archaeological project north of Khartoum.
Randi’s ethno-archaeological field studies were undertaken in cooperation with Gunnar and his projects in Northern and Southern Darfur.
Both Gunnar and Randi benefited greatly from working with exceptionally good Sudanese students. For their work in Darfur, one of them, Musa Adam Abdul Gelil was particularly important. He was from Northern Darfur and introduced them to the iron smelters who demonstrated the whole production process from the collection of the ore and the making of the charcoal, through the construction of the furnace and of the tuyers, down to the execution of the actual smelting.
In their work in Darfur, Randi and Gunnar profited from assistance provided by officials on various levels, especially on the lower levels of so-called Native Administration.
Moreover, without the dedicated work of a number of interpreters their studies would have been impossible. Among them, Gunnar benefited greatly from the assistance of Youssif Bakhit in Amballa and Abu Bakr Saif ed-Din in Nyertete, while Ibrahim Moussa was very important for Randi’s work in Northern Darfur.
It is, however, impossible to mention all the people who provided hospitality to the Haalands in the many small villages and in nomadic camps where they lived.
These people are in fact the deepest cherished memories from Darfur Before…
This Internet photo exhibition was made possible thanks to funds from the Department of Archaeology, History, Cultural Studies and Religion, UiB Global and Nile Basin Research Programme – all based at the University of Bergen.
Alexandros Tsakos, Erik Hauke Tønnesen, Henriette Hafsaas Tsakos and Morten Heiselberg have worked at different stages of implementing the exhibition.