International, national and local political discourses often portray the Murle community as principal aggressors and the source of much of the instability affecting former Jonglei State in South Sudan. Although such negative stereotypes are partially driven by actual events, they are also manipulated by certain groups to serve political purposes and informed by the assumption that there is a lack of credible authority structure among the Murle. Changing Power Among Murle Chiefs investigates how Murle customary authorities—in particular, red chiefs—navigate and negotiate political, military and spiritual authority, while simultaneously challenging the view that Murle society has no organic leaderships structures. The challenge is not the absence of leadership structures but rather their abundance and the difficulties they pose for the ability of outsiders to navigate them.
Researcher at SOAS University of London, UK
Mrs. Da Costa is conducting PhD Research with a regional focus on South Sudan; anthropology of war and violence; mobility and migration; displacement; state formation and state-society relations; ethnicity; politics of identity and of belonging; liberal peace, peacekeeping and local peacebuilding; qualitative methodologies.