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The Making and Remaking of Gogrial: Landscape, history and memory in South Sudan.

CORMACK, ZOE,TROY (2014) The Making and Remaking of Gogrial: Landscape, history and memory in South Sudan. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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This thesis is a historical study of landscape in a pastoralist region of South Sudan called Gogrial. Gogrial is known in academic studies through Godfrey Lienhardt’s ethnographic research on Dinka religion, conducted there in the late 1940s. Since that time the area has suffered extensively in two civil wars. This thesis reinterprets Gogrial’s recent past, from the perspective of those who live there. It contributes to studies of African landscapes by showing how the landscape of Gogrial has been constructed and reconstructed through periods of civil war and expanding and contracting state power. It argues that transforming the landscape is both a way of mediating insecurity and a central part of local historical narratives.

This thesis informs debates on how mobile populations construct landscape; it does this by focusing on how different pathways and different centres are temporally, socially and spatially constructed. It diverges from most studies of pastoralism, which stress marginalization, to show how pastoralists create their own centres. This is a local study but it is firmly situated in a wider political context, and is attentive to how the construction landscape in Gogrial has interacted with wider political transformations in South Sudan. Therefore it is also partly a study of how pastoralists engage with the state, showing how rural populations have sought to tap the state’s power, while retaining distinct moral claims on the landscape.

In its broadest sense this is a study of how people live with chronic insecurity. Despite the extreme violence this region has experienced, people in Gogrial do not see their lives and their locality as defined by violence. Instead, this thesis will show how the experience of predatory states and militaries are woven into and in some cases subsumed by local versions of the past that stress different processes and different centres. This challenges much of the historiography of Sudan and South Sudan, which has presented places like Gogrial as victimized peripheries. In contrast, this thesis will explore rural agency and the creative cultural management of insecurity through making and remaking the landscape.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:South Sudan, Memory, Conflict, History, Anthropology
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > History, Department of
Thesis Date:2014
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:29 Oct 2014 08:34

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