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The Religious Framing of the South Sudanese Civil Wars: The Enduring Legacy of Ngundeng’s Prophecy

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This artcile discusses how a religious idea informed the political behaviour of South Sudanese leaders in the context of civil wars and the associated bitter contest for leadership. The prophecy which is invoked in the leadership contest in South Sudan is the prophecy of the 19th century Nuer prophet, Ngundeng Bong believed to predicted the…

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“The dead are just to drink from”: recycling ideas of revenge amongst the western Dinka, South Sudan

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Governments in South Sudan have long built their authority on their ability to fashion changing regimes of revenge and compensation, war and peace. Governments’ capture of these regimes has resulted in the secularisation of compensation despite the ongoing spiritual consequences of lethal violence. This article explores these issues by focusing on the western Dinka of…

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Poisoning at the periphery: allocating responsibility across the Uganda/South Sudan borderlands

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This paper presents ethnographic evidence from three sites across the Uganda/South Sudan borderlands. At each location, procedures to identify alleged poisoners were documented. Novel voting processes were initiated by hybrid local authorities. Addressing widespread anxiety about proximate wrong-doing seemed to promote order locally. In this paper, we discuss similarities between locations and review what constitutes…

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It takes a village to raise a militia: local politics, the Nuer White Army, and South Sudan’s civil wars

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Why does South Sudan continue to experience endemic, low intensity conflicts punctuated by catastrophic civil wars? Reporters and analysts often mischaracterise conflicts in the young country of South Sudan as products of divisive ‘tribal’ or ‘ethnic’ rivalries and political competition over oil wealth. More nuanced analyses by regional experts have focused almost exclusively on infighting…

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The Spectacle of Death: Visibility and Concealment at an Unfinished Memorial in South Sudan

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This article examines an attempt to build a memorial to local victims of civil war in South Sudan. The memorial commemorates the mass execution of civilians in 1964, close to the town of Gogrial in a rural part of South Sudan. During this massacre, local people were killed and their bodies piled up into a…

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Contesting the Militarization of the Places Where They Met: the Landscapes of the Western Nuer and Dinka (South Sudan)

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Decades of militarized, violent conflict and elite wealth acquisition have created a common rupture in shared landscapes between communities of the western Dinka and Nuer (South Sudan). Through the remaking of these landscapes, governments and their wars have indirectly reshaped political identities and relationships. Networks of complex relationships have used this space for migration, marriage,…

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South Sudan: A New History for a New Nation

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Africa’s newest nation has a long history. Often considered remote and isolated from the rest of Africa, and usually associated with the violence of slavery and civil war, South Sudan has been an arena for a complex mixing of peoples, languages, and beliefs. The nation’s diversity is both its strength and a challenge as its…

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Borders are Galaxies: Interpreting Contestations over Local Administrative Boundaries in South Sudan

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This article argues, drawing on research in a Dinka-speaking part of South Sudan, that conflicts over local boundaries are rooted in the existence of different border paradigms and in subsequent attempts to resolve, sometimes violently, competing moral claims on the landscape. Link to publication

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Assembling land control after displacement: some reflections from rural Southern Sudan

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This article recounts how, in the years prior to independence in 2011, returnees successfully assembled land for inhabitation and productive use through autochthonous modes of governance, legitimation and inscription. Link to publication

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CSRF SOUTH SUDAN