Christopher Tounsel

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Christopher Tounsel

Doctoral Candidate in History

1029 Tisch Hall, Ann Arbor MI, 48109-1003

  • Fields of Study
    • Colonial/Post-Colonial Africa
    • Christianity
    • Race
    • Nationalism
  • About

    My dissertation focuses on the intersection of Christianity, culture, and politics in southern Sudan from the end of the Mahdist War (1898) to the attainment of national independence in 2011. It investigates the theological underpinnings of Southern national-identity formation and the ways in which religious thought has historically been combined with arguments for Southern separation and sovereignty. This entails both a close examination of Southern clerics like Saturnino Lohure, Angelo Tutuo, and others who served on the frontlines of the Southern liberation movement and tracing the intellectual thought coursing through organizations like the Sudan African National Union and Sudan People's Liberation Army/Movement. The dissertation argues that liberation theology’s contributions to Southern separatist arguments have been largely informed by shifting sociopolitical circumstances, with ‘Blackness’ emerging as a central component to Southern theology by being the dominant emblem  of spiritual and national liberation.


    “‘I clearly see the finger of God’: Providence and the Construction of South Sudanese Religious Thought in the First Civil War”. Graduate Students in African Studies (GSAS) Symposium at Indiana University: Bloomington, Indiana; March 2014.

    “‘Persecution and Exile’: Fr. Angelo Tutuo and Revelations from the South Sudan National Archive” African Studies Association Annual Meeting: Baltimore, Maryland; November 2013.

    “‘Ye are a Chosen People’: Biblical Rhetoric and National Liberation in Southern Sudan, 1955-1967” Sudan Studies Association Annual Conference: University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; May 2013.

    “When Caesar Ruled Khartoum: The Hermeneutics of Church and State in Southern Sudan.” African Studies Group, Durham University: Durham, England; February 2013.

    "Religion, Militarism, and the Seeds of Southern Sudanese Separatism, 1899-1914." Graduate History Conference, Louisiana State University: Baton Rouge, Louisiana; March 2012.

    “Missionaries, Prophecy, and Southern Sudanese Nationalism.” Eisenberg Institute for Historical Studies, University of Michigan; Ann Arbor, Michigan; October 2011.


    Mellon-Mays Undergraduate Fellows Dissertation Grant; 2014
    Rackham Humanities Candidacy Fellowship; 2013
    Radcliffe/Ramsdell Fellowship; 2013
    SSRC Mellon-Mays Predoctoral Research Grant; 2012
    CAORC Multi-Country Fellowship; 2012
    Rackham International Research Award; 2012

  • Education
    • MA, History, University of Michigan, 2011
    • BA, History, Duke University, 2009