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Rift Valley Institute

Making local knowledge work

A new history for a new nation

This analysis by Rift Valley Institute Fellow and renowned South Sudan historian Douglas Johnson weighs up the implications of South Sudan’s independence on the new nation’s history, historiography and sense of identity. The text is taken from a keynote lecture Johnson gave to the 9th International South Sudan and Sudan Studies Conference, held in Bonn, from 23-25 July this year. As the RVI website describes:

‘… he discusses the South Sudan as “a missing piece in the jigsaw of Africa’s past”, offering a robust critique of the various outside prejudices and preconceptions that have continued to inform, or misinform, many research programmes. South Sudan may no longer be part of Sudan, he concludes, but it is part of the Nile basin, of north-east Africa, of Africa itself—and “will be all the poorer if its history were to be written in parochial, essentialist terms”.’

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