Chapter 1 Patterns of State-building in Southern Sudan in a Historical Perspective

In: State-building South Sudan
Sara de Simone
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This chapter addresses the intertwining of voluntary state-building efforts with processes of state(s) formation along the recent history of Southern Sudan, identifying three main patterns of state building: physical violence/coercion, bureaucratization of government practices and the creation of legitimacy. It takes the Turco-Egyptian conquest of the region as the first moment in history when the idea of a centralized power above local polities started penetrating the region, initially through violence but later evolving into the routinization of government practices, which gave some degree of predictability to the relations between local societies and the state administration. Local political entrepreneurs who managed to master this predictability found a new source of legitimacy in the colonial state, implementing, for the first time, a strategy of extraverted accumulation of power. Colonial-time local leaders (the so-called traditional chiefs) retained their legitimacy also during post-colonial attempts at building the local state in the southern region, giving continuity to a process of state formation that relied on ethnic belonging as the major vehicle to access state resources. This process contributed to the civil war after the collapse of the Addis Ababa Agreement in the early 1980s.

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