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Taxonomy results for: Ethnography

Rethinking Aid in Borderland Spaces: The Case of Akobo

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Taking the Ethiopia-South Sudan borderlands as a case study, Rethinking Aid in Borderland Spaces: The case of Akobo argues that the traditional modalities of the aid industry are not fit for purpose in a world where transnationalism is a daily reality for communities, even—perhaps even especially—in the most geographically remote locations. The transnational networks that…

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Politics, prophets and armed mobilizations: competition and continuity over registers of authority in South Sudan’s conflicts

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Spiritual and divine authorities play a prominent role in mobilizing armed violence. This article provides a micro-history of a contemporary Nuer prophetess (guan kuoth) in South Sudan who mobilized hundreds of armed men including in support of current anti-government rebellions. The article grapples with apparent paradoxes in her approach to kume (a broadly defined notion…

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Revisiting colonial legacies in knowledge production on customary authority in Central and East Africa

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Renewed attention on customary authority in both scholarship and development interventions renders it pertinent to revisit how contemporary engagement with this form of authority is still informed by colonial legacies. These legacies include: first, the penchant to see customary authority as solely invested in ‘chiefs’, rather than being relational and multifaceted; second, compartmentalized approaches that…

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Do local peace deals work? Evidence from South Sudan’s civil war

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This paper maps five cases of recent local level peace deals in South Sudan between 2014 and 2018 to identify key criteria that strengthen the prospects of successful implementation and sustainability of local peace agreements. Critically, there are no generic formulas to achieve effective sustainable local peace deals. What works is highly contingent on the…

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Vanishing herds: Cattle rustling in East Africa and the Horn

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Cattle rustling, a term widely accepted to mean livestock theft, has become a widespread and sometimes lethal practice in East Africa and the Horn of Africa regions. Once a traditional practice among nomadic communities, it has now become commercialised by criminal networks that often span communal and international borders and involve a wide range of…

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Lost and Found in Upstate New York: Exploring the Motivations of “Lost Boys” Refugees as Founders of International Nonprofit Organizations

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This research examines engagement in diaspora philanthropy through the lens of Lost Boys of Sudan and their founding of small international nonprofit service organizations based in the United States. The authors seek to understand refugees’ motivations to take upon themselves leadership roles in their local United States communities and in the provision of goods and…

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Youth in South Sudan: livelihoods and conflict

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This review looks at livelihood issues related to “youth” in South Sudan, focusing on factors influencing decision-making by young men on livelihood options (both violent and non-violent) and trusted avenues of communication. In South Sudan, youth is not a fixed biological category, but a fluid social construct, and broadly refers to young men aged between…

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The Currency of Connections: The establishment and reconfiguration of informal livelihood groups in Bentiu, South Sudan

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This briefing paper explores the establishment and reconfiguration of informal livelihood groups and associations as a form of socioeconomic connectedness in Bentiu, South Sudan. By considering these dynamics, aid actors can better understand various livelihood-based strategies that households rely on to cope and adapt during displacement. This understanding may help aid actors to maximize the…

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The Currency of Connections: The impact of weddings and rituals on social connections in Bentiu, South Sudan

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This briefing paper examines changes to wedding rituals and the nature of marriages in the Bentiu Protection of Civilians site and adjacent areas of Rubkona and Bentiu towns. The authors draw from interviews and focus group discussions with displaced residents in the Bentiu PoC and with residents in the adjacent towns of Bentiu and Rubkona…

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The Currency of Connections: The evolution of pre-displacement connections in Bentiu, South Sudan

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This briefing paper examines changes in social connectedness in the Bentiu Protection of Civilians site and surrounding town. The authors pay particular attention to the evolution of pre-displacement connections, as well as people’s strategies for establishing new bonds with neighbors, friends, and those pursuing similar livelihood activities. These issues are significant for humanitarian practitioners, decision-makers,…

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When Soldiers’ Survival Became Spiritual: Ugandan Soldiers in the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan war

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This paper examines military landscapes as a source of violence, and soldiers’ efforts to deal with this violence by using their spiritual beliefs. The paper reveals how Ugandan soldiers who fought in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and South Sudan believed that their survival in war was a consequence of their spiritual beliefs in…

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Making Order Out of Disorder: Customary authority in South Sudan

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South Sudan’s customary authorities play an important role in local government, justice, and as intermediaries or brokers between local communities and the government. While significant attention was paid to the role of customary authorities in South Sudan’s statebuilding project prior to the country’s secession in 2011, the start of South Sudan’s civil war in December…

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Significance of Societal Customs in the South Sudan Civil War Resolution

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The South Sudan intermittent conflicts and civil wars have attracted national, regional, and international interventions. Dominated by politically led conventional ideologies of peace approaches that revolve around suppression, negotiation, and mediation, such approaches have not achieved sustainable peace in the region. The case for societal customs presented here demonstrates a contrary view. Historically, the Nilotic…

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Constructing a national narrative in civil war: history teaching and national unity in South Sudan

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This article analyses history teaching in South Sudanese secondary schools and focuses on the interplay of local context, curricular intentions, and teachers’ agency. Drawing on ethnographic data, the article focuses on how the main objectives of national unity and critical thinking are enacted by teachers in the classroom. Through theories of history teaching and learning…

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Youth (Monyomiji) and Conflict Resolution in the South Sudan Civil War

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This paper argues that the Monyomiji age class institution, focused on the youth, is essential in the South Sudan civil war resolution. Local cultures, through which the traditional roles of youth are manifest, should be included at national conflict resolution negotiations to prevent decades of failed national, regional and international interventions. Interventions in South Sudan…

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Love, duty and burden: Mothers’ and daughters’ engagements with familial obligations

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The proliferation of transnational migration has attracted scholars from diverse disciplines to investigate the experiences of migrants from different cultures. While cultural anthropologists are trained to understand the subjects’ emic perspectives, other social scientists who grapple with cultural diversity tend towards applying an etic analytical lens, without deeper engagement with given cultural logics. In order…

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Speaking Truth To Power in South Sudan: Oral histories of the Nuer prophets

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Prophets—those recognised as having been ‘seized’ by a divinity—have played an important role in the history of South Sudan, particularly that of the Nuer people. They were seen as being powerful political actors and, alongside chiefs, important intermediaries for the colonial authorities. However, the influence of the Nuer prophets goes much further than mobilizing or…

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“One” But Divided: Tribalism and Grouping among Secondary School Students in South Sudan

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This ethnographic study reconsiders the concept of tribe and its influence on group boundary‐making practices in South Sudan. The findings revealed ways in which students manipulated their group boundaries by giving different meanings to nominal category of tribe. Further, the study unveiled that, moving in and out from those boundaries, students live in a complex…

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Customary Authorities Displaced: The experience of Western Equatorians in Ugandan refugee settlements

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South Sudan’s violent conflicts continue to plague its people. An estimated four million South Sudanese have been forcibly displaced since December 2013, and more than a million have sought refuge in Uganda where communities have largely reassembled without their traditional or customary leaders. Customary Authorities Displaced examines the consequences of conflict and displacement on traditional…

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Caught Between Two Cultures: When aid in South Sudan is pulled between local norms and western systems

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Kinship and community support-based social security mechanisms are vital for the survival of South Sudanese in times of crisis. They are based on concepts and longstanding practices of mutual support, social obligation and vulnerability. These concepts can conflict with western ideals of transparency, accountability and “fair” allocation of resources, including aid. As a result, socially…

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