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2013 - The Law and Society Association Words: 460 words || 
1. Seidel, Katrin. "Negotiating South Sudanese ‘Nationality’: ‘Diversity & Unity’ Strategies in Translation" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the The Law and Society Association, Sheraton Boston Hotel, Boston, MA, May 30, 2013 <Not Available>. 2020-02-29 <>
Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: In South Sudan the notion of "a nation is made, not born" is underlying a proclaimed 'unity in diversity' policy of governmental and international actors. State actors’ efforts of constructing a South Sudanese collective identity originally appear to be respondent to an “enemy” that practically no longer exists. In the struggle for sovereign self-determination, the concept of ‘unity in diversity’ and claims of 'indigeneity' by former socio-political minority communities in Sudan emerged as a counter-strategy to dominant concepts of unity in conformity promoted by Northern Sudanese political elites. Since the independence of South Sudan the 'unity in diversity' approach has undergone a tremendous translation: former Sudanese protagonists who mobilised the category of 'indigeneity' have, by and large, become state-actors in the emerging state South Sudan. The notion of ‘unity in diversity’ appears to have been redefined in the South Sudanese political contexts without losing validity. The new translation of ‘unity in diversity’ for South Sudan becomes the foundation for the construction of the State.
In the course of who rightfully belongs to the South Sudan, prominent political categories such as 'autochthony' and 'indigeneity' are mobilised by governmental actors as well as by local elites in the course of negotiating ‘nationality’. The (South-)Sudanese case shows how these socio-political categories are redefined translated from one “other” to the next one without losing ‘credibility’ in processes of negotiating and redrawing of socio-political boundaries.
The highly public debated issue of ‘nationality’ appears to have been brought to an end since the enactment of South Sudan’s Nationality Act of 2011, but only de jure. This Act provides ‘nationality’ either by birth or, if a resident for more ten years, by naturalisation. Furthermore, it includes an ‘ethnisized’ definition of ‘nationality’ by granting citizenship for “indigenous ethnic communities of South Sudan”. An open question remains as to which local communities are included or excluded? Does the category embrace members of ‘cross-border’ local communities, of pastoralist communities with shifting residencies in South Sudan and Sudan, or descendants of migrant communities? Besides this disputed category, accessing citizenship appears to be challenging as well, especially in light of to be fulfilled proven application procedures. Furthermore, which legal practices beyond de jure boundaries become apparent regarding unhindered practices of citizenship rights in the context of shifting identities and existing complex loyalties and authority structures?
The South Sudanese case shows that state actors’ claim to sovereignty attempts to create for themselves privileged roles for constructing and controlling political spaces as well as redefining the content of citizenship and conditions of sovereignty in the on-going negotiations over the ‘nationality’ status of the people. In this context it will be demonstrated how the contested categories of ‘unity in diversity’ and ‘indigenousness’ are mobilised and by whom in the course of negotiating collective identities, space and power.

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