C. Pinaud (2014) South Sudan: Civil War, Predation and the Making of a Military Aristocracy
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This article addresses the social and political implications of wartime and post-war resource capture in South Sudan. It argues that predation by armed groups during the second civil war (1983–2005) initiated a process of dominant class formation, and demonstrates how, through various strategies of resource capture and kinship networks, commanders from the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) and other factions formed a new aristocracy – a “dominant class” that thinks of itself as “the best”. Drawing on Marcel Mauss’s analysis of ‘gifts’, it describes how commanders, through gifts of bridewealth and wives to their subordinates, formed a lower stratum of followers that strengthened their position. After the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, the military elite in power has maintained this lower stratum through the deployment of nepotistic and clientelist networks. The article discusses three modes through which the elite has sought to distinguish itself, showing how the elite has used the lower stratum to demonstrate its prestige and influence in the post-war period, and how the elite’s ostentation and widespread corruption have triggered popular resentment in which old ethnic enmities sometimes resurface.