lisa monaghan

Hutchinson (2012). A Guide to the Nuer of Jonglei State

The Dinka (Jieng) and Nuer (Nei ti naadth) are the two largest ethnic groups in
South Sudan. Their traditional homelands extend across the savannas and marshes of the greater Bahr el-Ghazal and Upper Nile regions and are transected by numerous tributaries flowing into the White Nile (see Map 1). Dinka groups inhabit the vast arc of land running north, west, and south of the central Nile basin. Nuer groups occupy the central basin itself, extending eastwards along the Sobat and Baro rivers all the way into southwestern Ethiopia.

Both ethnic groups are closely related, having emerged from a common proto- Nuer/Dinka cultural formation some five hundred years ago. Both speak closely related Nilotic languages, though these are no longer mutually comprehensible. They have also intermarried heavily over the years, and often migrate through and/or reside in one another’s home territories. Finally, both groups share an extremely broad sense of kinship and related exogamic norms, which can extend back in time to encompass as many as ten to twelve generations of descendants on the father’s side and six to eight generations on the mother’s side.

Category: Anthropology and History