Ever since power struggles within the Sudan People's Liberation Army split the movement into two warring factions in August 1991, rural Nuer and Dinka communities of the South have been grappling with a deepening regional subculture of ethnicized violence. This article describes political factors that have prolonged this bitter conflict into the present and have contributed to the post-1991 polarization and militarization of Dinka and Nuer ethnic identities. Drawing on parallel field research conducted in Dinka and Nuer regions of South Sudan during 1998 and 1999, the authors show how ordinary civilians have been struggling to understand and cope with this new “war of the [southern] educated [elite].” Among the major themes addressed are: (1) the rapid unraveling of regional codes of warfare ethics since 1991; (2) the transformation of previous patterns of interethnic competition over scarce economic resources into politicized programs of ethnicized violence; (3) mounting public despair over the seeming unwillingness of John Garang and Riek Machar to compromise their personal ambitions for the greater unity of the South; and (4) recent peace initiatives made by Dinka and Nuer chiefs, which have succeeded in reducing interethnic violence, despite the continuing intransigence of some military leaders.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cultural Studies