Campus / News / Student Research / October 11, 2012

Honors Profile: Senior Tanvi Madhusudanan compares Sudanese and Israel-Palestine conflicts

Senior Tanvi Madhusudanan is proposing an Honors project in international relations that would analyze the resolution of the Sudanese conflict in 2011. She

Senior Tanvi Madhusudanan talks about her Honors project. (Ben Sisaikeo/TKS)

hopes to find recommendations for Israeli-Palestinian negotiators seeking an elusive two-state solution.

The Knox Student: Describe to me your proposed Honors project.

Tanvi Madhusudanan: Basically, I will be comparing two conflicts in the field of international relations: the Israel-Palestine conflict and the Sudanese conflict. The Sudanese conflict was resolved to an extent with the 2011 referendum creating the state of South Sudan. I chose these two conflicts because they have a lot in common: there is a religious component in both, they have both been affected by postcolonialism in origin. They also have had some level of international involvement and high levels of violence.

What I’m going to be doing, after comparing the similarities, is looking at why Sudan was resolved, although we aren’t sure about the long-term, whereas with Israel it is still at a stalemate. I will be using the Sudanese paradigm to suggest ways for Israel and Palestine to negotiate and reach some kind of resolution. But because of the differences that are there, it may be that there are certain things the Sudanese did that will not apply to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

TKS: So what made you interested in the subject, to compare these two?

TM: I’m an international relations major, so these are things I’ve read about, especially the Israel-Palestine conflict which is quite prevalent in the U.S., as we are deeply concerned and involved in the issue. Over the summer, I took a seminar in Washington D.C. by the Center for Middle East Peace, and the seminar was on the different components of the conflict and how a two-state solution could be reached and what it would involve. It made me think that while the conflict is unique in some ways, it also shares a lot of attributes with conflicts such as Kashmir, between India and Pakistan. However, it was too similar to Israel in that it hasn’t been resolved either, so I wouldn’t have been able to draw conclusions or discuss something new. So I switched to the Sudanese conflict, in order to analyze what worked and what didn’t.

TKS: What professors are you working with, and were there any classes at Knox that stimulated your interests?

TM: The chair for my Honors is Sue Hulett, the head of the IR department. Karen Kampwirth is also on it, and we are looking for one more, someone outside the PS/IR department. I took Comparative Revolutions with Professor Kampwirth, and though we didn’t talk about either of these two conflicts I’m studying, we did a lot of conflict comparison throughout the world. That helped me to decide on my methodology for comparing Sudan and Israel-Palestine.

TKS: Is there related research you are building off of, in drawing advice from one conflict to another?

TM: In general, foreign policy works avoid these kind of comparisons because of the unique nature of each conflict. However, the most accepted resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the two-state solution, and this is what I’m looking at too in Sudan and the Middle East. So while there have been a lot of negotiators in and out of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with their own ideas and experience, the situation has not improved much and has in fact gotten worse in some ways. There has been a lot of research in how the solution could be achieved, but as far as I have researched no one else has tried to compare Sudan to it, as it just hasn’t had the same international attention in the West.

Tom Courtright
Tom Courtright is a columnist for The Knox Student, primarily covering Africa. He grew up in Kilimanjaro, Tanzania and is currently studying international relations, history and journalism. He begins his volunteer term with Peace Corps in September 2014, on the Pacific island of Fiji.

Tags:  Center for Middle East Peace College Honors conflict Israel Knox College Palestine Sudan Tanvi Madhusudanan

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