It was a war between North and South in which racism and economic interests played major roles. That could, of course, describe the U.S. Civil War. It also describes the recent war in Sudan that led to the creation of South Sudan as a separate nation. A comparative analysis of these two wars—separated in time and place—provides an opportunity to deepen understanding of both conflicts.
To engage students in that comparison, this lesson uses clips from Beats of the Antonov, a documentary about Sudanese citizens living in the geographic middle of the nation who fought alongside the South, but who, at war's end, found themselves living in territory controlled by the North. Their unique vantage point provides viewers with important insights into the role of race, racism, ethnicity and economic power in the ongoing conflict. Students will use these insights to reconsider what they know about the U.S. Civil War. Note: This lesson assumes that students have already studied the U.S. Civil War.
POV offers a lending library of DVDs that you can borrow anytime during the school year—FOR FREE! Get started by joining our Community Network.
Approximately 75 minutes plus homework
By the end of this lesson, students will:
- Know the "backstory" and outcome of the recent civil war in Sudan
- Analyze a key event in U.S. history by comparing Sudan's civil war with the U.S. Civil War
- Read informational text
- Practice listening skills by using documentary film clips as information sources
- Write analytical essays
- Film clips and equipment on which to show them
- Comparing Civil Wars handout (see end of lesson plan)
1. [Optional] Review
To remind students of what they have already learned about the U.S. Civil War, have them discuss brief answers to these questions (on handout):
- What major issues led to the war?
- What role did race play?
- What was the role of economics?
- Who actually did the fighting?
- How long did the war last?
- How was the conflict resolved?
- How did the government run by the victors treat those who identified with the losing side?
- How were civilians affected by the war?
- How did music play a role in coping with the war?
2. Learning about Sudan and South Sudan: General Background
Assign students to read CIA World Factbook Country Profiles for Sudan and South Sudan.
All students should read the material under the Introduction and Economy links (as well as any other sections you deem important).
Depending on the level of your students, you might also assign these texts:
Check for understanding. At a minimum, students should know that:
- Sudan is controlled by Arab-identified, predominantly Muslim Sudanese with historical ties to Egypt. In contrast, South Sudan is controlled by African-identified, predominantly Christian Sudanese with historical ties to British colonial rulers.
- South Sudan controls most of the oil fields that have been the primary source of revenue for the Sudanese, but it relies on permission from Sudan to transport the oil to key ports. Revenue from the oil is supposed to be split between the two countries.
Note: It may also be helpful to make sure that students know the definition of ethnicity and understand the difference between race and ethnicity. For a helpful resource to get started, visit http://study.com/academy/lesson/race-and-ethnicity-definitions-social-minority-vs-social-majority.html
3. Sudan's Civil War
Now that students have a grasp of the basic background for Sudan's civil war, they're ready to hear from some people on the ground. Explain that the clips they are going to see are from a documentary——that shows the ongoing war against Sudanese who fought with South Sudan but who found themselves living within the boundaries of Sudan when the official war ended.
Show all of the clips, pausing briefly after each to check for understanding and invite reactions.
[Optional] If time allows, you might want to share with students this definition of "internalized racism" and discuss how it is manifested in the clips:
Internalized racism is the situation that occurs in a racist system when a racial group oppressed by racism supports the supremacy and dominance of the dominating group by maintaining or participating in the set of attitudes, behaviors, social structures and ideologies that undergird the dominating group's power.
- From Donna Bivens at the Women's Theological Center
Depending on the level of your students, have them work individually or in small groups to complete the Comparing Civil Wars Handout. Because students will use their handout notes in the next step, you may want to spend some time in class reviewing results. Advanced-level students can skip the review and go directly to the next step.
Assign students (individually) to write essays that transform their notes from the handout into essays that compare and contrast the two wars; each essay should offer at least one insight the student gained about the U.S. Civil War from learning about Sudan's civil war. Adjust the level of detail you require according to the grade and skill level of your students. For students who don't need writing practice, you might offer the option of creating a multimedia presentation rather than an essay.
1. Screen the full film, this time with a focus on the role of music in the community.
2. Do a "deep dive" on the concept of "internalized racism." Invite students to reflect on the role that internalized oppression—and its counterpart, privilege—have played in their own lives and/or historically. You might start by exploring the resources at www.racialequitytools.org. Another way to open the topic is to investigate the worldwide use and marketing of skin lightening cosmetics.
3. Sudan's president, Omar al-Bashir, has been indicted for war crimes. Investigate the case and hold a debate with one side arguing for and the other arguing against conviction.
POV: Media Literacy Questions for Analyzing POV Films
This list of questions provides a useful starting point for leading rich discussions that challenge students to think critically about documentaries.
United to End Genocide
This group's website provides an overview of the history and current status of conflicts in Sudan.