Transforming language, people, and place in a time of pandemic
THE GRAFFSCAPES OF COVID-19 PANDEMIC IN KHARTOUM, SUDAN
Mohammad Alkhair (Alzaiem Alazhari University, Sudan)
Ashraf Abdelhay (Doha Institute for Graduate Studies, Qatar)
In the context of the ongoing public protesting, the graffscapes of urban spaces of Sudan emerge as a highly sensitive semiotic index for political changes and social dynamics in the country. In such intricate context of political transition, COVID-19 plaques the underresourced country and its health institutions. Hundreds of official and unofficial initiatives were launched against the pandemic. The Sudanese people both inside and in diaspora were united in efforts to raise the public awareness of the disease. The graffscapes of the various Sudanese cities similarly index such dynamics of the fast evolving pandemic.
In this respect, a legion of individual graffiti artists and graffiti groups launched COVID-19 combating campaigns. They hurried to public spaces embodying various informative and symbolic messages about the disease. This paper investigates the graffscapes of COVID-19 pandemic in the Sudanese capital city of Khartoum. The paper addresses three questions: (1) How do graffiti artists and graffiti groups in Khartoum repond to COVID-19 pandemic? (2) How do the graffiscapes of Khartoum semiotically represent the dynamics of COVID-19 pandemic? (3)To what extent do the graffscapes of the pandemic in Khartoum relate to wider discursive politics of change in Sudan? To answer these questions, we depend on photographic graffiti data, ethngraphic observation and indepth interviews with graffiti artists. The results of this paper show a great role played by graffiti art in efforts of awareness raising of COVID-19. The graffiscapes of Khartoum is real barometer that indexes the changing space of the pandemic. Graffiti murals on COVID-19 are not mere messages about the disease; they are intertwined with social and political issues of a changing landscape of Sudan.