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Sudan's Blood Memory


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Many societies worldwide possess oral histories and long memories, reaching back many centuries, particularly of wars and events of great trauma. Labeling them "blood memories" in this book, Stephanie Beswick presents a pre-colonial history of Southern Sudan, a region that, according to some, "has no history." Beginning in the fourteenth century, the book follows the region's largest ethnic group today, the Dinka, from their original homelands in the central Sudanese Gezira between the Blue and White Niles, into their more recently adopted homelands in Southern Sudan. Beswick demonstrates how early pre-colonial stresses play a critical role in modern-day South Sudan, in what has since become the world's longest civil war, fought externally against the fundamentalist Islamic Northern Sudanese government as well as internally within the South itself.

Stephanie Beswick is professor of history at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. She was born in Khartoum, Sudan.


Broad in scope, and based on rigorous research and extensive fieldwork, [Beswick's] book makes a lasting contribution to Sudanese studies and will appeal broadly to scholars of African oral history and migration. --INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF AFRICAN STUDIES

This book is full of big ideas and detailed commentary, resulting in a satisfying intellectual experience. Highly recommended. --CHOICE

This book is a remarkable achievement that establishes a definitive standard for all future Dinka studies, a foundation of clarity, comprehension, and creativity. It should be required reading in all government, nongovernment, and humanitarian agencies whose employees work with the Dinka. --AMERICAN HISTORICAL REVIEW

Clearly an important and original contribution to the study of the history of Sudan and of Dinka history in particular. --MODERN AFRICAN STUDIES


First Published: 15 Jan 2006
13 Digit ISBN: 9781580462310
Pages: 218
Size: 9 x 6
Binding: Paperback
Imprint: University of Rochester Press
BIC Class: GTB

Details updated on 05 Oct 2015


  • 1  Introduction
  • 2  Geography and Brief History of Sudan
  • 3  The Changing Nilotic Frontier
  • 4  Slave Raids, Wars, and Migrations
  • 5  Communities of the Sobat/Nile Confluence: The Padang
  • 6  Communities of the Eastern Nile: The Bor
  • 7  Communities in the Southwest: The Southern Bahr el-Ghazal
  • 8  Communities in the Northwest: The Northern Bahr el-Ghazal
  • 9  Grain, Cattle, and Economic Power
  • 10  Totemic Religion
  • 11  Human Sacrifice, Virgins, and River Spirits
  • 12  Priests, Politics, and Land
  • 13  Ethnic Expansion by Marriage
  • 14  Sovereign Nations within the Dinka
  • 15  Eighteenth-Century Slavers and Traders
  • 16  Nilotic Chaos: Dinka, Nuer, Atwot, and Anyuak
  • 17  Politics and Stratification among Stateless Peoples
  • 18  Summary and History
  • 19  Legacy of the Precolonial Era

Sudan's Blood Memory:

Sudan's Blood Memory: