Ethnocide And South Sudan’s Never Ending War

This is a paper entitled “Ethnocide as a Tool of State-building: South Sudan and the Never-ending War” by Dr Carol Berger, Anthropologist and Independent Researcher.

Full paper here: Ethnocide in South Sudan


This working paper documents the strategy of the Dinka-led government of South Sudan to achieve dominance over the state’s instruments of power and claim the land of non-Dinka peoples. The findings are the outcome of extended ethnographic fieldwork in war-affected regions of South Sudan. This strategy, years in the making, began with the
destabilisation of regions bordering traditional Dinka lands and was followed by the forced displacement of non-Dinka populations. As the title states, “ethnocide” has been employed as a tool of state-building.

This ethnocide, led by the country’s “organised forces” (the national army, police and irregular militarised groups), is characterised by the indiscriminate killing of civilians based on ethnicity and the systemic use of rape against women and men. The state has targeted Nilotic-speaking populations of Nuer and Shilluk, along the borders of
Ethiopia and Sudan; Bantu speakers from the Equatoria region, bordering Uganda and Kenya; and the Fertit, Balanda and Luo peoples of Greater Bahr el Ghazal region, northwestern South Sudan.

Having achieved mass displacement in large parts of the country, the president then put into law measures that disenfranchise non-Dinka peoples, including the re-mapping of the country into gerrymandered states and counties that ensure a Dinka monopoly over national and regional decisionmaking. The paper examines the complex drivers – both
from the state and, whether intentional or not, the international community – that have brought this plan for Dinka supremacy to fruition.


Dr Carol Berger holds a DPhil (Anthropology) from the University of Oxford and is a Commonwealth Scholar. She is an independent researcher who has spent years in South Sudan, beginning from 2006, completing doctoral fieldwork, and later working as a researcher/analyst for the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).