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The fighting Nuer: primary sources and the origins of a stereotype

  • Douglas H. Johnson

Extract

In the one hundred and forty years that the Nuer have been known to small audiences outside the Sudan they have almost invariably been presented as truculent and aggressive warriors. They appeared in the nineteenth century exploration literature as archetypical ‘savages’: naked, stubborn and warlike men who were compared to monkeys, to the monkeys' advantage (Baker 1867:60). In the early twentieth century they were thought to be an intractable problem that impeded the peaceful establishment and efficient running of a new colonial administration. In Sir Edward Evans-Pritchard's monographs Nuer feuds and raiding are described as central to the structural relations between Nuer sections and between the Nuer and their neighbours.

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The fighting Nuer: primary sources and the origins of a stereotype

  • Douglas H. Johnson

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