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Changing Identifications and Alliances in North-East Africa

Changing Identifications and Alliances in North-East Africa: Volume II: Sudan, Uganda, and the Ethiopia-Sudan Borderlands

Günther Schlee
Elizabeth E. Watson
Copyright Date: 2009
Edition: NED - New edition, 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 280
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  • Book Info
    Changing Identifications and Alliances in North-East Africa
    Book Description:

    Forms of group identity play a prominent role in everyday lives and politics in north-east Africa. These volumes provide an interdisciplinary account of the nature and significance of ethnic, religious, and national identity in north-east Africa. Case studies from Sudan, Ethiopia, Uganda, and Kenya illustrate the way that identities are formed and change over time, and how local, national, and international politics are interwoven. Specific attention is paid to the impact of modern weaponry, new technologies, religious conversion, food and land shortages, international borders, civil war, and displacement on group identities. Drawing on the expertise of anthropologists, historians and geographers, these volumes provide a significant account of a society profoundly shaped by identity politics and contribute to a better understanding of the nature of conflict and war, and forms of alliance and peacemaking, thus providing a comprehensive portrait of this troubled region.

    eISBN: 978-1-84545-963-5
    Subjects: Anthropology, Political Science, Geography

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Maps, Plates, Figures and Tables
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-28)
    Elizabeth E. Watson and Günther Schlee

    ‘Who belongs to whom and why’ is an enduring question for social science, and for contemporary policymakers who are faced with – and sometimes attempt to manipulate – the processes of collective identification. Decades of academic argument about whether or not forms of collective identification such as ethnicity will disappear as a result of the march of history and modernization have been replaced by an acceptance that forms of collective identification change over time but are as significant as ever for their influence on politics and individual livelihoods (see Turton 1997, for review), shaping the way resources are claimed and distributed (Bayart...

  6. Part I Raiding, War and Peace, Sudan and Northern Uganda

    • Chapter 1 The Nuer Civil Wars
      (pp. 31-48)
      Douglas H. Johnson

      What has happened in Sudan? No sooner did the civil war in the south appear to be nearing a negotiated peace in 2003 when another civil war broke out in Darfur. Events in Darfur, as reported by human rights groups and the international media, invite comparison with outbreaks of earlier ‘ ethnic conflict’ and ‘ethnic cleansing’ in the Nuer homeland. For the Nuer, as later in Darfur, there have been reports of militia formation, fragmentation and realignment; of systematic civilian displacement and deaths; and of oil interests as a factor behind the devastation (Franco 1999; Verney 1999; Amnesty International 2000;...

    • Chapter 2 Peace and Puzzlement: Grass-roots Peace Initiatives between the Nuer and Dinka of South Sudan
      (pp. 49-72)
      Sharon Elaine Hutchinson

      A ferocious white bull, tethered only at the neck, wrestled for its life. Kicking and groaning, the great ‘white one’, Mabior, nearly broke free from a tightening circle of hundreds of shouting and dodging Dinka and Nuer spiritual leaders and chiefs. ‘You are fierce like the conflict of our people is fierce. You are the wild one and you will accept this peace!’ Finally, someone caught the bull’s tail and the crowd closed in. Heaving in unison, the men forced the bull on its side and held its legs. In a gesture of respect, some Dinka women rushed forward to...

    • Chapter 3 The Experience of Violence and Pastoralist Identity in Southern Karamoja
      (pp. 73-100)
      Sandra Gray

      In this chapter, life histories of Karimojong women are used to explore the cultural contexts of armed cattle raiding among Karimojong agro-pastoralists in northeastern Uganda. Women’s recollections of the circumstances of vital events (child births and deaths) provide critical information on the demographic effects of decades of violence in this population. At the same time, they illuminate the origins of modern intra-tribal raiding in southern Karamoja. Historical analysis suggests that current hostilities between Bokora and Matheniko territorial divisions of the Karimojong arose from their diverging political and economic interests in the decades since the 1950s, culminating in an alliance between...

  7. Part II Politics of Kinship and Marriage, Sudan and Northern Kenya

    • Chapter 4 Endogamy and Alliance in Northern Sudan
      (pp. 103-116)
      Janice Boddy

      Research in colonial archives suggests that British officials in Anglo-Egyptian Sudan were deeply concerned that their subjects remain who they ‘are’: members of distinctive ‘tribes’. Tribes were thought to be ‘natural units’ of administration, and ‘detribalized’ people a source of sedition and unrest. Moreover, a person’s conspicuous traits–language, dress, skin colour, physique, ritual body modifications–were taken as markers of identity, indeed origins. Such views had an adventitious precedent further up the Nile that helps contextualize my discussion of sociality in nineteenth-and twentieth-century northern Sudan.

      The argument rests on two obvious but sometimes neglected ethnographic points. First, academic anti-essentialism...

    • Chapter 5 Descent and Descent Ideologies: The Blue Nile Area (Sudan) and Northern Kenya Compared
      (pp. 117-136)
      Günther Schlee

      Since Maine,¹ social and political theory has been pervaded by the idea of contract. Social relations are thought to be shaped by the intentions of people, by agreements between people, and by the interests they attach to these relationships. Constructivism has further directed our attention to the ideas people have about society and to the question of how social action is guided by such mental constructs. The merits of both contract theory and constructivism are beyond doubt. But have these dominant theories, with their focus on what happens in our minds and how we harmonize our ideas with each other,...

  8. Part III Encounters with Modernity, Sudan and Sudan–Ethiopia Borderlands

    • Chapter 6 The Rise and Decline of Lorry Driving in the Fallata Migrant Community of Maiurno on the Blue Nile
      (pp. 139-156)
      Al-Amin Abu-Manga

      Maiurno on the Blue Nile in central Sudan was founded as the last station of the Fallata hegira (religious migration) from the defunct Sokoto Caliphate (northern Nigeria) after its fall into the hands of the British colonial army in 1903. Its name derives from that of the Fulani Sultan, Mai-Wurno, who first settled there with his people and followers. The first generation of settlers remained conservative, resistant to any influence of the host communities and suspicious of anything connected to the colonial administrators, whom they considered to be ‘unbelievers’. But the immediate descendants of the first migrants proved to be...

    • Chapter 7 Mbororo (Fulɓe) Migrations from Sudan into Ethiopia
      (pp. 157-178)
      Dereje Feyissa and Günther Schlee

      This chapter examines the Fulɓe in Sudan and Ethiopia, and particularly the Mbororo among them, who are fairly recent arrivals from West Africa. It explores the way in which the Mbororo have, since their arrival, had to solve a number of problems. The first is that of how to become integrated into a wider system. The Fulɓe left behind in West Africa a set of multiply interdependent pluri-ethnic societies in which they played a number of historical roles and had their own economic niches. Some of the main political units there had Fulɓe rulers; in other settings, members of the...

  9. Part IV Displacement, Refuge and Identification

    • Chapter 8 Conflict and Identity Politics: The Case of Anywaa–Nuer Relations in Gambela, Western Ethiopia
      (pp. 181-204)
      Dereje Feyissa

      This chapter is an attempt to explain an emerging regional pattern of conflict and identity politics, focusing on their occurrence among Anywaa and Nuer, the two main ethnic groups in Gambela region, western Ethiopia. In this chapter, I explore identity as a political process through which the strategies of exclusion/inclusion are articulated. Such an approach brings in complex actors in the identity game, within and beyond the ethnic unit. Contrary to the ‘traditional enmity’ approach or the emerging essentialist public discourse about ethnic relations, I argue that the hostility between the Anywaa and the Nuer is a ‘modern hate’ and...

    • Chapter 9 The Cultural Resilience in Nuer Conversion and a ‘Capitalist Missionary’
      (pp. 205-218)
      Christiane Falge

      This chapter deals with the development of Nuer Christianity in Ethiopia during different phases of conversion, from the arrival of the first missionaries in the 1960s to the establishment of a Nuer branch of the EECMY (Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus) in the 1990s. It discusses different aspects and effects of conversion, and explores the impact of encounters with missionaries on Nuer society. Rather than assuming a single, central motive for conversion or a particular, specific effect of the missionary encounter, I draw attention to the cultural resilience of the Nuer in their conversion, on the one hand, and stress...

    • Chapter 10 Changing Identifications among the Pari Refugees in Kakuma
      (pp. 219-234)
      Eisei Kurimoto

      Wars in North-East Africa have produced millions of refugees and internally displaced persons – many more than the official UNHCR figures reveal. They live under a variety of conditions, in refugee camps and settlements under the protection of the UNHCR, in camps for the displaced often without the UNHCR protection and in shanty towns on the outskirts of urban centres in utter destitution. Although there is an enormous volume of reports and documentation on refugees, we know very little about their livelihoods and social worlds. In other words, most of the reports and studies recognize them as abject, helpless and hopeless...

    • Chapter 11 Crossing Points: Journeys of Transformation on the Sudan–Ethiopian Border
      (pp. 235-250)
      Wendy James

      We all have a fairly straightforward idea of what we might mean in principle by ‘a journey’. In the normal sense it is defined by a beginning, a smooth and steady unfolding towards a goal and completion with the final arrival – for example, from Crewe to Birmingham, or even Nairobi to Arusha over an international border. I think of myself as the very same person throughout and those places as fixed – in social character more or less as in latitude and longitude. When we try to understand the social history of a disturbed zone, however, this is a hopelessly innocent...

  10. Bibliography
    (pp. 251-262)
  11. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. 263-264)
  12. Index
    (pp. 265-270)