1400x300_South Sudan

South Sudan

Nimule, Gogrial, Mayom, Ler, Mayendit, Abyei and Malakal

A team based at LSE leads the research on South Sudan. In South Sudan we work with the Bridge Network – a group of South Sudanese early career researchers. We are also working with an expert panel made up of established South Sudanese academics and thought-leaders at universities in South Sudan and beyond. Additionally, the South Sudan Team were able to offer small grants to researchers to carry out further research on what works to prevent conflict in South Sudan.

Research Projects 

The Social and Political Meanings of Money

In South Sudan, elite politics appears to be increasingly marketised in that loyalties are bought and sold through monetary transactions. Rebelling groups are persuaded to come back into government at a price. However, moneys and markets have long had complex, evolving social and political meanings. This project explored how the meanings of money in politics and to buy loyalties has changed over time, and how elites have sometimes struggled to control more popular meanings. This research was carried out by Naomi Pendle.

Hunger Courts

This project examines bottom-up perspectives on accountability for extreme hunger. 2017 saw the declaration of four famines around the world. It was clear that starvation had not ended. The United Nations and other actors at an international level started to explore the potential for international criminal culpability for those who caused starvation. These discussions highlight that starvation was often used as a method of war.  This research project investigates how extreme hunger has been understood in South Sudan overtime and during the 2017 period of famine. The research pays attention to local mechanisms used for redistributing food or for holding people accountable for the hunger of others, including local chiefs’ courts. In some areas, chiefs’ courts in the dry season suspend all other cases and only deal with those relating to hunger.  They are known as hunger courts.

The research is being led by the Bridge Network and Naomi Pendle.  The research includes court observations, oral history interviews, archival research and data from recent, large-scale surveys in South Sudan. 

Research outputs:

Protection of Civilian Sites

In December 2013, when fighting erupted across South Sudan, tens of thousands sought shelter in United Nations bases and their Protection of Civilian Sites.  Many people have not left these sites since 2013 and since, more have sought safety.  Hundreds of thousands still live on these bases.  Our research in Malakal, Wau, Bentiu and Juba is exploring how authority is changing and how violence is governed in these unusual spaces.  The research is being led by the Bridge Network, Naomi Pendle and Rachel Ibreck.  

Research outputs:

Education and Civicness

The last decades of South Sudan’s history have been dominated by violent conflict. And, the logics of politics in South Sudan have become increasingly inherently violent and turbulent. Despite this however, there remains numerous examples of more civic behaviour.  This project explores how education in South Sudan has created political and social spaces for more civic authority and actions. This also provides space to explore the very meaning of civicness in the context of South Sudan. We also consider alternative contexts when education has been used to wage war and cement more authoritarian leadership.

The project is being carried out by a broad collection of South Sudanese and international academics.  This cohort are conducting their own, small research projects that will be brought together in a special issue for a peer review journal.

Local Peace in the Sudans

The Sudans have experienced decades of violent conflict but also decades of attempts by actors to forge peace, including at the local level.  These peace agreements do not necessarily end conflict but can be an important part of reshaping power and remaking the rules of war and peace. This project looks at histories of local peace-making in South Sudan over time.  We do this through a collection of smaller research projects by a variety of researchers. 

This includes research on local peace agreements in Abyei by Martin Ochaya, research on local peace agreements in the Equatorias by Leben Moro, research on civil society’s role in IGAD negotiations on South Sudan by David Deng, and research on peace negotiations in Gogrial by Naomi Pendle and Wol Athuai.

Sexual and Gender-Based Violence – A Historical Perspective

International reports have condemned high levels of sexual and gender-based violence carried out during battles in South Sudan over recent years.  This research project looks at key historic moments in South Sudan that have evolved norms surrounding gender-based violence. This project is carried out by Professor Jok Madut Jok.  It revisits and updates his ethnographic work in the 1990s and reflects on changes over the last two decades.

Gender Norms and Practices in South Sudan

This project looks at how different forms of non-state public authority, particularly those who have influence over the use of violence in their communities understand and interpret gender norms and practices, including practices of sexual violence. The project also considers how these understandings have, in turn, been influenced by the norms being promulgated through humanitarianism.  The research is being carried out by CRP Research Fellow Alicia Luedke.

Research outputs:

Civicness in Exile

Many South Sudanese have fled into exile to seek safety from the conflict in South Sudan. However, during exile, South Sudanese are often again confronted with various layers of violence. Despite this, many have found ways to find dignity for themselves and others. In this project, Rachel Ibreck explores how South Sudanese in exile in Egypt have created civic spaces and activities created to support each other’s’ struggles for dignity and survival.  

Research outputs:

Tax and Rebel Governance in South Sudan

This project explores the historical legacy of tax practices by focusing on the way taxes were collected by rebel groups during South Sudan’s civil wars and whether related ideas about taxes continue to inform peoples' understandings of, and relationship to, the state in South Sudan.

This research is vital to policymakers and academics because it challenges conventional narratives about rebel taxation in conflict-affected states, which tend to assume that the primary function of direct taxes in these types of regions is revenue raising, whereas they are also likely to be uniquely informing ideas about the state. This research is being carried out by Matthew Benson.

Meet the Team 


Alex de Waal

Prof Alex de Waal is the Research Programme Director for the CRP. He also leads the CRP research on both South Sudan and Somalia, and has written extensively on the Horn of Africa/Red Sea region.


Matthew Benson

Matthew is a researcher in the CRP-South Sudan Team examining how people have experienced, and shaped, public authority and relations between the centre and the peripheries in South Sudan & Sudan by bargaining over taxes in these countries. 

Silhouette of a person

Hannah Logan

Hannah is the Research Assistant supporting the CRP -South Sudan team.


Alice Robinson

Alice is an Occassional Research Officer in the CRP-South Sudan team.


Fellowships and Small Grants 


Alicia Luedke

Alicia is a Conflict Research Fellow in the CRP-South Sudan team. 

Alicia’s project investigates how different forms of non-state public authority, including community defense groups, militias and youth gangs understand and interpret gender norms and practices in South Sudan.


Rachel Ibreck

Rachel is the recipient of a small grant from the Conflict Reseach Programme. Her research focusses on work on land conflict and civicness in Eastern Equatoria, women as commodities in the political marketplace and community associations among South Sudanese refugees in Cairo, Egypt.



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LSE International Development Department, Conflict and Civil Society Research Unit, Houghton Street, London, WC2A 2AE

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