University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Centre of African Studies Michaelmas Seminars > Disruptive listening in times of conflict: the poetics of war and citizenship in Dinka cattle songs in South Sudan

Disruptive listening in times of conflict: the poetics of war and citizenship in Dinka cattle songs in South Sudan

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Political analysts and historians frequently described the civil wars in Sudan as a ‘theater of proliferating conflicts’. However, while independence of South Sudan in 2011 may have closed the curtain on one act, it has given rise to a new drama generated by war-induced poverty, weak state capability and critical levels of internecine violence. Where the government and its international development partners may have identified state-making and security as their foremost development priorities – agendas that are shaped as much by global political and strategic considerations as by the economic needs and policy performance of the country – this paper will attend to that less articulated project of nation-building, listening in on the aspirations, critiques and validations from the citizens themselves. Specifically, it will examine ways in which songs in Dinka culture, whose highly stylized rhetorical and performative convention is manifest through finely observed allusions to cattle, offer a public platform where individuals and groups engage their futures imaginatively and pragmatically in relation to the state.

This talk is part of the Centre of African Studies Michaelmas Seminars series.

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