Conveners: Sebabatso Manoeli and Thomas Hendriks
Speaker: Douglas Johnson
Africa’s newest nation has a long history. Often considered remote and isolated from the rest of Africa, and usually associated with the violence of slavery and civil war, South Sudan has been an arena for a complex mixing of peoples, languages, and beliefs. The nation’s diversity is both its strength and a challenge as its people attempt to overcome the legacy of decades of war to build a new economic, political, and national future.
Most recent studies of South Sudan’s history have a foreshortened sense of the past, focusing on current political issues, the recently ended civil war, or the ongoing conflicts within the country and along its border with Sudan. This brief but substantial overview of South Sudan’s longue durée, by one of the world’s foremost experts on the region, answers the need for a current, accessible book on this important country.
Drawing on recent advances in the archaeology of the Nile Valley, new fieldwork as well as classic ethnography, and local and foreign archives, Johnson recovers South Sudan’s place in African history and challenges the stereotypes imposed on its peoples.
Douglas H. Johnson is a specialist in the history of North East Africa and a Fellow of the Rift Valley Institute. He has served as Assistant Director for Archives in the Southern Regional Government, a resource person during the IGAD-sponsored peace talks, and a member of the Abyei Boundary Commission. His works include Nuer Prophets: A History of Prophecy from the Upper Nile in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries (Oxford: OUP, 1994) and The Root Causes of Sudan’s Civil Wars (Oxford: James Currey, 2011).