In-flux:(re)negotiations of gender, identity and ‘home’ in post-war Southern Sudan

Grabska, Katarzyna (2010) In-flux:(re)negotiations of gender, identity and ‘home’ in post-war Southern Sudan. Doctoral thesis (DPhil), University of Sussex.

PDF - Published Version
Download (91MB) | Preview


Can war and displacement have an empowering and emancipating impact on gender asymmetries? How does being continuously on the move and ‘in-flux’ due to war and years spent being displaced and returning supposedly ‘home’ affect people’s lives and the practice and negotiation of gender relations? Conceptualising war-time displacement as a catalyst of social change, the research explores the transformation of southern Sudanese Nuer gender relations in the context of refugee return as a result of the most recent war (1983-2005). Based on ethnographic research in Kenya and southern Sudan, this thesis examines the gendered displacement of Nuer refugees in Kakuma camp and their after-return emplacement experiences in southern Sudan.

This research analyses how women and men, old and young navigated the social conditions of war and violence and used their agency to adjust, adapt and negotiate their place in exile and after return ‘home’. It unravels changing narratives of ‘becoming and being’ a man and a woman in conflict-zones, refugee camps and in the processes of emplacement after return. It argues that asymmetrical gender relations and women’s subordination were challenged as a result of the Sudanese civil wars. Consequently, multiple forms of gender identities emerged showing creative ways in which women and men cope with war-time displacement, beyond being either only victims or perpetrators of violence. In the post-war Nuerland, militarised forms of masculinities and violence-affected femininities are juxtaposed against ‘educated prowomen’ men and ‘empowered educated women’ that emerged due to experiences in the refugee camp.

The findings illustrate how gender (and age) are constraining concepts for women and men, yet women’s agency and choices are more restricted. The concepts of ‘home’ as imagined, lived and (re)produced are of key importance in the continuing shaping and re-shaping of gender identities, ideologies and institutions. In the context of after ‘return’ emplacement, returnee women and girls experience restriction of opportunities despite their attempts at autonomy. The creation of new power sources (through militarisation and education) mostly accessible to men reifies women’s subordination by reinforcing men’s power over (uneducated) women.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: Institute of Development Studies
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HQ The Family. Marriage. Women
H Social Sciences > HC Economic history and conditions
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
D History General and Old World > DT History of Africa
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 11 Nov 2010
Last Modified: 06 Jan 2020 09:37
Google Scholar:1 Citations

View download statistics for this item

📧 Request an update