St Petersburg University has held the 2nd International Conference ‘Issues of the History and Culture of Sudan: Ancient, Modern, and New Times’. The conference brought together experts from: the Institute of Oriental Manuscripts at the Russian Academy of Sciences; the Institute of Oriental Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences; the State Hermitage Museum; Russia’s leading universities; and independent researchers.

The University is committed to improving the breadth and depth of international engagement and collaboration in education and diplomacy with Sudan, said Sergey Andryushin, Deputy Rector for International Affairs. Much has been done, as he said. The University signed an agreement with the University of Khartoum and Red Sea University. We also strengthen our relationships with Sudan by organising visits of the leading figures of Sudan to Russia. Among them are the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador of Sudan, and delegations from universities.

'Today, we are discussing the prospects of how we can expand our collaboration with Sudan. Our colleagues in Asian and African studies are actively engaged in developing this direction. Our academic staff, postgraduate students and professors visit Sudan to deliver lectures and to improve teaching of the Russian language in Sudan. Collaboration with Sudan is definitely essential to preserve the traditions of and develop the St Petersburg school of Asian and African studies, which is among the oldest schools in Russia and Europe,’ said Sergey Andryushin, Deputy Rector for International Affairs.

The conference was held for the second time. We are planning to hold it regularly, said Igor Gerasimov, Professor at St Petersburg University.

We should be aware that Sudan is rich in history and culture, not only in natural resources. We are always delighted to welcome in St Petersburg those who are enthusiastic about gaining a deeper insight into Sudan.

Igor Gerasimov, Professor in the Department of History of the Middle East Countries at St Petersburg University

In the greeting address, the Russian diplomat and Russian Ambassador to Sudan in 2007-2013, Envarbik Faselyanov, expressed his respect to the Sudanese guests and wished the participants to work successfully at the conference, which, in his opinion, was engaging and rich in events.

The potential to develop bilateral contacts between our countries is enormous, said Nikolai Diakov, Head of the Department of History of the Middle East Countries at St Petersburg University.

This year marks the 65th anniversary of the independence of the Republic of the Sudan, which is the largest state in North Africa. This is a milestone for people who had been fighting for their sovereignty for centuries. Although the territory of Sudan changed due to the war ten years ago, Sudan’s authority and prospects for development on a global scale are unquestioned, said Professor Diakov.

Iraq is my first love in the Arab world and Sudan is among the last that I love. Visiting the country during the times when it was under European and African influence enabled me to gain a deep understanding of what great interest was Russia to Sudan’s students and professors.

Nikolai Diakov, Head of the Department of History of the Middle East Countries and Professor Emeritus at St Petersburg University

‘Sudan is rich in talented people. It can be evidenced by the fact that one of those who took part in the competition on knowledge of Russian as a foreign language from Sudan could perform on the stage of the Mariinsky Theatre,’ said Nikolai Diakov, Head of the Department of History of the Middle East Countries and Professor Emeritus at St Petersburg University.

Hassan Mohammed Mahmoud Osman, Counsellor of the Embassy of the Republic of the Sudan to the Russian Federation, expressed regret that due to the epidemiological situation in the world, leading Sudanese researchers could not come to St Petersburg. The diplomat is confident that the research conducted at St Petersburg University will make a positive contribution to what humanitarian knowledge we have accumulated so far in Russia and Sudan.

A series of research reports was opened by Alexei Krol, Senior Research Associate at Lomonosov Moscow State University. His report focused on the results of the Nubian archaeological and anthropological expedition on the territory of the Deraheib monument settlement. He spoke about the methodology and results of excavations.

Ekaterina Gusarova, Research Associate at the Institute of Oriental Manuscripts at the Russian Academy of Sciences, presented an analysis of the Ethiopian royal chronicles in the Geëz language to unveil everyday and diplomatic life in Ethiopia and Sudan in the 18th–19th centuries.

The conference ‘Issues of the History and Culture of Sudan: Ancient, Modern and New Times' was held at St Petersburg University on 21-22 October 2021. The brief overview of the reports can be found in the programme.

Sergei Frantsuzov, Professor at St Petersburg University and Head of the Department of Middle Eastern and Near Eastern Studies at the Institute of Oriental Manuscripts at the Russian Academy of Sciences, spoke about dynastic myths in medieval African kingdoms. Konstantin Burlakov, Junior Research Associate at the State Hermitage Museum, reported that during the short period of its history in the 19th century, the independent Sudanese state developed a unique culture of military paraphernalia. To this end, he used a banner of the Mahdist war that recently appeared in the Hermitage’s collection.

At the final meeting of the conference, the participants decided to create a research group to study Sudan that would be headed by Professor Igor Gerasimov.