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Title:Political ecology in the Upper Nile: the twentieth century expansion of the pastoral 'common economy'
Author:Johnson, D.H.ISNI
Book title:Herders, warriors, and traders: pastoralism in Africa / ed. by John G. Galaty and Pierre Bonte. - Boulder, Col. [etc.]: Westview Press
Geographic terms:Nile River
Subjects:ethnic groups
rural economy
Abstract:The scholarly image and understanding of the Nilotic pastoralists of the Sudan is based primarily on E.E. Evans-Pritchard's study of the Nuer (1940), which was produced from fieldwork undertaken between 1930-1936. He identified a common economy among Nuer communities, based on the mutual sharing of food supplies. The present author argues that much of the common economy which Evans-Pritchard suggests as exclusive to the Nuer can be seen to extend to and include other peoples as well. In order to show that Evans-Pritchard's conclusions were influenced by his observation in 1930-1936 of a particular configuration of flooding and epidemics, whose destructive effects were exacerbated by the nature of colonial intervention at the time, the present author compares the period 1929-1936 with other periods of extreme flooding, one immediately prior to colonial subjugation (1916-1918) and one following the end of colonial rule (1961 and after). By analysing the response of the Gaawar and Lou Nuer, their Ngok, Ghol and Nyareweng Dinka neighbours, and the Luac, Thoi and Rut Dinka who live interspersed among them, the author shows how some of the social interdependence which food scarcity promoted within Nuer communities can also be seen to operate at a wider level. In addition to this he suggests that the historical pattern of flooding in the region has been a significant factor in the expansion of the Nilotic common economy throughout the 20th century. Notes, ref.