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June 17, 2014 · 9:10 am

Durham University visiting scholars applications open

The Sudanese Studies Programme at Durham University, led by the Departments of Law and History, calls for applications, particularly from Sudan and South Sudan nationals, for three one-term visiting scholarships based at Grey College, Durham, for September-December 2014. For the application information, please see here:

Durham – Visiting Scholars – Sudans – 2014-15

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Please stop ‘birthing’ South Sudan

This is a partial response to Richard Dowden’s essay in African Arguments, 22.1.2014, which I will address further below.

I am bored to tears with the “birth” metaphor for South Sudan.  I can’t be the only one.  South Sudan became independent in 2011, prompting a wave of newspaper articles and comment about ‘the birth’.  It was ‘the birth of’ ‘a new republic,’ ‘a new nation‘, and ‘a new country‘ – pick your preferred political unit.

Two years of independence celebrations later, and yes, it was becoming extremely wearing.  As well as the standard “Christian black South and Arab Islamic North” summary of Sudan-South Sudan politics of old, it seemed that it was now necessary to preface everything about South Sudan with a birth or baby analogy.  South Sudan had had a ‘difficult birth,’ and reviews of ‘birthday celebrations’ – like I catalogued, maybe slightly sarcastically, here and here – were opportunities for people to choose their side, pro- or con-independence.

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Reference material for South Sudan crisis

As a partial response to the events of the last month, I don’t want to offer my own comments, but point to people and sources that are good summaries of current understanding and analysis.

Lesley Warner has an ongoing summary of news on South Sudan on her blog; the last post is here.  Erin has just returned to Juba, and her blog is worth keeping an eye on here.  Magdi has written a recent analysis here, and Aly Verjee’s work on his blog is also excellent.

The best South Sudanese-led summary and analysis of the situation comes from the RVI discussion, reported and podcast here.  It is worth listening to this in full, because of the many excellent South Sudanese critics and reformers asking questions in the open session.

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Not an expert

My radio silence could be partly explained by a forthright intercession by a member of the South Sudan Embassy at a SOAS discussion yesterday.

“Self appointed experts on South Sudan [are a big problem at the moment]… [we need discussion to be] made more academic. … [Their comments are how] we are judged”

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Filed under Academia, Current affairs, History, Politics, South Sudan

Last week in Juba: photo diary


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Filed under Africa, South Sudan, Travel

The end of the tent: South Sudan National Archives update

20131108_161229_filterQuick update on the South Sudan National Archives, from the African Studies Association conference in Baltimore.

A few months ago, the Ministry of Culture staff, with Dan and me from the RVI, moved the final load of loose paper from the USAID tent where they’d been housed since 2006, their first post-war home.  These were the last of the damaged pages from burst files, which are now waiting for someone who enjoys serious puzzles.

Three weeks ago, when passing, I saw that we were right to get out of the tent.  Temporary in the Juba climate really does mean temporary.

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