This study asks: in the general absence of a functioning and effective civil administration in Juba’s huge suburbs, how have people negotiated personal disputes and neighbourhood management since conflict began in 2013? Who arbitrates in Juba, and on what terms? This study challenges top-down analyses that see political-military elites managing their ethnic enclaves of followers and fighters through nepotism and gifts. Such patronage requires the complex negotiation of responsibilities and rights, including over community safety and order. In Juba, the local authorities who mediate this have been built by men and women with extensive expertise and connections in South Sudan’s long history of ‘civil-military’ governance systems. These local authorities have established lasting institutions by negotiating rights to residence in, arbitrating over, and knowing the human geography of their neighbourhoods. Their authority is rooted in this deep politics, drawing on their detailed knowledge of topographies of power in these multi-ethnic, highly military neighbourhood spaces.
Ms Kindersley completed her PhD at Durham University on the political activity of Southern Sudanese residents in Khartoum, 1969-2013, based on research conducted with returned ‘IDPs’ from Khartoum in rural Northern Bahr el Ghazal, Aweil, and Juba.
The PhD thesis is a history of alternative South Sudanese political thought, debate, and resistance/rebel activity in Khartoum during the second civil war. The focus is on the nation-building and nationalism work within Southern communities’ own “civil society”: the local self-taught educators and community organisers, running nationalist civic education programmes, youth work and cultural activities – without NGO intervention – in the face of Sudan state violence and community displacement.