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Gender, Home & Identity

Gender, Home & Identity: Nuer Repatriation to Southern Sudan

Copyright Date: 2014
Edition: NED - New edition
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    Gender, Home & Identity
    Book Description:

    How and where did returning Nuer refugees make their 'homes' in Southern Sudan? How were gender relations and identity redefined as a result of war, displacement and return to the post-war communities? And how were those displaced able to recreate and rebuild a home, a community and a nation? During the civil wars in Southern Sudan (1983-2005) many of the displaced Sudanese, including many Nuer, were in refugee camps in Kenya and Ethiopia. In the aftermath of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, they repatriated to Southern Sudan. Faced with finding long-lost relatives and local expectations of 'proper behaviour', they often felt displaced again. This book follows the lives of a group of Nuer in the Western Upper Nile region. The narratives of those displaced and those who stayed behind reveal the complexity of social change, in particular, the crucial yet relatively unconsidered transformation of gender and generational relations, and how this has impacted on state formation in what is now South Sudan. Katarzyna Grabska is a research fellow with the Department of Anthropology and Sociology of Development at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva. She is co-editor (with Lyla Mehta), of Forced Displacement: Why Rights Matter?(Palgrave: 2008)

    eISBN: 978-1-78204-380-5
    Subjects: Political Science, History, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Maps and Photographs
    (pp. vii-vii)
  4. Preface
    (pp. viii-ix)
  5. Acknowledgements
    (pp. x-xi)
  6. Glossary of Nuer Terms
    (pp. xii-xiv)
  7. Acronyms
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  8. 1 Returnee Dilemmas: Dangerous Trousers and Threatening Mini-skirts
    (pp. 1-27)

    When, after years of displacement Nyakuol, Nyariek and Kuok arrived in Ler, a Nuer town in southern Sudan’s Greater Upper Nile region,¹ they were faced with the dilemma of finding long-lost relatives, settling in and confronting local expectations of proper behaviour as ‘real’ Nuer women and men. Like many others displaced during the 22-year-long second civil war in southern Sudan (1983–2005),² they had spent most of their lives in refugee camps. In the after math of the 2005 peace agreement between the Sudanese government in Khartoum and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army/Movement (SPLA/M) – the main southern Sudanese rebel organisation...

  9. 2 Jiom – Season of Fighting and Running: Conflict, Mobility, Gender
    (pp. 28-63)

    On a hot afternoon in March 2007, I was sitting in aluak(cattle byre) watching Nyariek’s mother grinding sorghum and cookingwalwal(sorghum porridge). Nyariek, a 16-year-old girl whom I’d met in Kakuma, had recently returned to southern Sudan. When I bumped into her in Ler she invited me to visit her mother, whom she had not seen since leaving for Kenya in 2001. After travelling by an old mini-bus and walking for three hours through dusty savannah, we reached Maper, Nyariek’s birth place. Inside theluakI listened to women narrate stories of war and displacement. ‘Which war...

  10. 3 Mai – Season of Displacement: Becoming ‘Modern’ in Kakuma
    (pp. 64-103)

    On arrival at Kakuma refugee camp – located in the dry savannah rangeland of Turkana nomads – one encounters football fields with crowds of multi-national refugee youth. Across the road are the high fences and barbed wire of the UNHCR compound, with its prison-like lights and security guards. ‘Welcome to Kakuma Refugee Camp!’ reads the sign on the gate to the NGO compound. Everywhere there are slogans meant to educate the residents: ‘Women rights are Human Rights’; ‘Ten days of activism against gender-violence’; ‘Women are good decision-makers’. There are constant announcements of workshops and many refugees were too busy to talk to...

  11. 4 Rwil: Season of ‘Returns’
    (pp. 104-125)

    Shortly after my arrival in Ler in early January 2007, I visited Nyakuol, the widow I had met in Kakuma. There, she had been a leader of the women’s support group in the southern Sudanese Nuer community and spoke out openly against under-age pregnancies and girls’ lack of access to education. After 15 years searching for refuge due to the civil war in southern Sudan, in December 2006 she and her four children repatriated to L e r with the assistance of the UNHCR. Her oldest daughter resettled with a cousin in the USA, while the oldest son chose to...

  12. 5 Season of Settling-in: Land and Livelihoods
    (pp. 126-151)

    When I saw Nyakuol in Ler, she told me that Nyapiny, her sister, had given her a hut. She had settled temporarily, having to wait for a survey until the GoSS gave her land. Nyakuol’s family of seven and Nyapiny’s of three shared two small huts. The suitcases Nyakuol had brought from Kenya were piled up in the corner. Her return ‘home’ was difficult:

    When we arrived here, there was not much support. The UNHCR took us by plane to Bentiu and then transported us by bus to LɛΓ. We were maybe fifty heading for LɛΓ. They gave us some...

  13. 6 Tot – Gendered Emplacement: Identities, Ideologies and Marriage
    (pp. 152-188)

    On a May morning in 2007, the preparations fortuoc, the wedding dance marking a stage in the Nuer marriage process were underway. This was also the beginning oftot, the rainy season, which often saw marriages being concluded. The bride’s family was busy cooking and getting her ready for the dance, while negotiations around bridewealth were taking place in aluak(cattle byre). It was decided that half of the groom’s cows were to be transferred to the bride’s family. The groom, Kuem, a Kukuma refugee who now was in his late twenties and had a lucrative job, was...

  14. 7 Returnees as Visitors and the Nuer Community: Where Do We Go From Here?
    (pp. 189-202)

    When I left LɛΓ in September 2007, Nyakuol, Kuok and Nyariek were partially settled-in. They had found their relatives and had built huts on their land. Nyakuol opened a small shop in the market, established a garden and her children were going to school. In recognition of her strong leadership skills, she was asked to participate in the SPLM political campaign as a representative for LɛΓ. Nyariek, still living with her father, was in the process of getting married. Although she had convinced her father to let her complete primary school, she continued to battle against other restrictions imposed on...

  15. Epilogue
    (pp. 203-205)

    On 15 December 2013, fighting broke out between the pro-government forces aligned with President Silva Kiir and opposition groups associated with the former Vice-President, Riek Machar. There are competing narratives about the events of the new conflict. Many commentators dubbed the violence as ethnically motivated, between Dinka and Nuer groups. Yet, this explanation skims over the deeper tensions and the more fragile and complex alliances that emerged as a result of the December crisis. The violence spread from Juba to Unity and Jongolei, and further to Equatoria. At first, Bentiu, Lεr and Malakal were strongholds of the anti-government forces. However,...

  16. Bibliography
    (pp. 206-218)
  17. Index
    (pp. 219-223)
  18. Back Matter
    (pp. 224-225)