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Title: 'This word, it is for Murle, not meant for other people' : the politics of Murle identity, experiences of violence and of the state in Boma, South Sudan
Author: Felix da Costa, Diana
ISNI:       0000 0004 6500 5937
Awarding Body: SOAS University of London
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 2016
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This dissertation is an anthropologically-informed and multi-sited qualitative study based on research carried out between 2012 and 2015 that focuses on the Highland Murle, a predominantly agrarian people part of a larger predominantly pastoralist group in southeastern South Sudan. It is primarily concerned with how Highland Murle carve a place both within historically dominant narratives of the "fierce and hostile Murle" as well as in the new state of South Sudan. It is the first attempt to study Murle society, identity and state relations from the perspectives of the Highland Murle and from Boma. Drawing particularly on the 2012-2014 period of war between the government's Sudan People's Liberation Army and the largely Murle rebellion, the South Sudan Democratic Army-Cobra Faction, the dissertation explores how Highland Murle people have addressed and engaged with the pressures of a predatory state and of structural and everyday violence; of being Murle and its pejorative stereotypes, by being the objects but also the active agents of identity politics. The dissertation contributes to the literature on state formation by showing how populations on the margins imagine the state and find ways to lay claims to it. It also contributes to the literature on violence as a destructive and creative force, which has meaning and is formative of people's perceptions of who they are. It does this by drawing on how during the 2012-2015 war some Highland Murle, as predominantly agrarian, made use of 'being nalam', a derogatory term to refer to someone with no cattle, to disassociate from the violence targeting Murle people. Thus, the dissertation explores how various forms of violence interact with ethnic identity-making and performance, demonstrating also how identity politics are not only used by dominant groups as discourses of power and exclusion, but also employed instrumentally by marginal groups as a source of protection from the violence that surrounds them.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral