Negotiations and morality: the ethnicization of citizenship in post-secession South Sudan

Published: 17/Dec/2015
Source: Journal of East African Studies
By Ferenc David Marko in Journal of East African Studies, Volume 9, 2015 – Issue 4, pp.669-684


In 2011, two days prior to its declaration of independence, South Sudan adopted a new nationality act and set up a bureaucracy to handle citizenship-related issues. Despite striking similarities with Sudanese bureaucratic traditions, the paper argues that South Sudan altered the overarching logic of its citizenship and moved towards an ethnic definition, in which applicants chiefly have to prove their ethnic affiliation. While Sudan stratified its citizenship regime and thus discriminated against people among its citizenry, South Sudan preselects its applicants. The paper, through the analysis of stories of citizenship applicants, seeks to investigate how people who do not immediately fit into the imagined categories of good citizens, cope with the situations. On these shaky grounds, where evidence is indecisive, bureaucrats and applicants invoke moral arguments, and thus – through these moral negotiations of citizenship – constantly redefine the state.


Themes: Acquisition of nationality, Discrimination, Ethnic/Racial/Religious
Regions: South Sudan
Year: 2015