Journal of Eastern African Studies, Special Issue: Politics and violence in eastern Africa: the struggles of emerging states, c.1940-1990

The newly published Special Issue of Journal of Eastern African Studies, Politics and
violence in eastern Africa: the struggles of emerging states, c.1940-1990, edited by
David M. Anderson and Øystein H. Rolandsen, features four articles relating to South


1. Political violence and the emergence of the dispute over Abyei, Sudan, 1950–
1983. By Luka B. Deng Kuol.

Why has the issue of Abyei come to gain such a prominent place in the political
relations between Sudan and South Sudan? This article traces the origin of the
current contestation over the status of Abyei, and assesses the impact of political
violence in Abyei on the history of conflict between the Government of Sudan and
the people of the south. Through its analysis, the article demonstrates that the Abyei
issue gained political significance not only because of repressive violence from the
government and its allies, but also through the people of Abyei’s shared experience
of political struggle against oppression.


2. The grassroots nature of counterinsurgent tribal militia formation: the case of the
Fertit in Southern Sudan, 1985–1989. By Daniel S. Blocq.

Many counterinsurgent tribal militias emerged during the second civil war in
Southern Sudan, and existing studies give the impression that formation of these
groups was largely a top-down process. This article challenges that assumption
through the study of the Fertit militia, arguing that formation of tribal militias
emerged from decision making at the local level, carried out by tribal leaders. The
article discusses the wider applicability of these insights and, generally, proposes a
more nuanced approach to the study of counterinsurgent militia formation. The
approach suggests simultaneous attention to state interventions and local


3. Ethiopian state support to insurgency in Southern Sudan from 1962 to 1983:
local, regional and global connections. By Lovise Aalen.

During the 1960s and 1970s, the Government of Ethiopia supplied Southern
Sudanese insurgents with arms, training and political support. This support has been
explained as retribution for Sudanese aid to Eritrean rebels fighting against the
regimes of Emperor Haile Salassie and the Derg. However, through analysis of
primary sources, this article shows that Ethiopian policy was also influenced by local
concern for state control in Ethiopia’s Western region of Gambella, by the regional
interests of Middle Eastern powers in the Horn of Africa and by the global context of
Cold War, reflecting a network of multi-level proxy wars.


4. Discourses of violence in the transition from colonialism to independence in
southern Sudan, 1955–1960. By Øystein H. Rolandsen & Cherry Leonardi.

The Torit Mutiny of August 1955 in southern Sudan did not trigger a civil war, but
state violence and disorder escalated over the following years. This article explores
how the outlook and strategies of the government officials who inherited the state
apparatus of the Anglo-Egyptian condominium contributed to this development. The
article outlines a great degree of continuity in state authoritarianism and repressive
governance discourse from the colonial period to the post-colonial period, and in the
principles in which southerners were ruled under the pretext of being ‘developed’,
‘modernized’ and ‘civilized’.


These articles are the outcome of the PRIO project, The Dynamics of State Failure
and Violence and earlier versions were presented at the Durham University
Conference 8-11 May 2014.

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