Out now:

 ‘And Then He Switched off the Phone’: Mobile Phones, Participation and Political Accountability in South Sudan’s Western Equatoria State

Mareike Schomerus* and Anouk S. Rigterink*

Schomerus, M and Rigterink, A S 2015 ‘And Then He Switched off the Phone’: Mobile Phones, Participation and Political Accountability in South Sudan’s Western Equatoria State. Stability: International Journal of Security & Development, 4(1): 10, pp. 1-23, DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5334/sta.ew

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This paper uses qualitative and quantitative original data to investigate the impact of mobile phones in situations of political contestation or conflict. We derive hypotheses from theories in general political science, and on the role of mobile phones specifically. These suggest that a link exists between access to better communication structures, political participation and government accountability. Given such a link, information and communications technologies—specifically mobile phones—could play a positive role in building a more accountable government, and with that, contribute to statebuilding. We examine to what extent these hypotheses hold true for ordinary citizens in South Sudan's Western Equatoria State (WES). Using interdisciplinary methods, we use data gathered through in-depth interviews and a quantitative survey and find little evidence that mobile phone coverage contributes to statebuilding or peacebuilding through a causal link between information, voting, political participation and government accountability. In a situation where administrative structures and mechanisms do not exist for citizens to hold politicians accountable, access to mobile phones might mean greater dissatisfaction with political participation and voting. People living in areas without coverage expressed a deep mistrust of government, and appeared to want to withdraw from the system of government entirely.

Schomerus, M., & De Vries, L. (2014). Improvising border security: 'A Situation of Security Pluralism' along South Sudan’s Borders with the Democratic Republic of Congo. Security Dialogue, 45(3 (Special Issue Governance of Border Security in Practice)). 

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This article compares two cases of securitization along South Sudan’s border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo. By comparing how a security concern – the presence of the Lord’s Resistance Army – was interpreted and responded to, the article shows that border security practices in two borderscapes are improvised, contradictory and contested, and serve to establish authority rather than actually securing the border. This is apparent on three levels: (a) through the multiplicity of security actors vying for authority; (b) in how they interpret security concerns; and (c) in terms of what practice follows. The article argues that by allowing authority at the border to be taken by actors that are not under direct control of the central government, the South Sudanese state is developing as one that controls parts of the country in absentia, either by granting discretionary powers to low-level government authorities at the border or through tactical neglect. Processes of securitization by both state and non-state actors in the borderland are largely disconnected from the South Sudanese central government, which does not claim authority over this border and thus seemingly does not consider the lack of security for its citizens, and the parallel authorities, as a threat to central stability.

Authority and Identity in Contemporary and Historical Perspectives

Palgrave Macmillan

Current international discourse on the new state of South Sudan seems fixated on 'state construction'. This book aims to broaden the debate by examining the character of regulatory authority in South Sudan's borderlands in both contemporary and historical perspective. The contributions gathered here show that the emerging border governance practices post-independence challenge the bounded categorization of 'state' and 'non-state', especially in the complex interactions between 'state', military, and business actors and power structures. It thus provides a timely and sophisticated contribution to the literature on African borderlands, examining a new state in creation at its borders, and providing an anthropologically and historically informed view of a rapidly evolving situation.

1. Introduction: Negotiating Borders, Defining South Sudan; Mareike Schomerus, Lotje de Vries and Christopher Vaughan
2. Too Much Water Under the Bridge: Internationalization of the Sudan – South Sudan Border and Local Demands for its Regulation; Øystein H. Rolandsen
3. Unclear Lines: State and Non-state Actors in Abyei; Joshua Craze
4. Pastoralists, Conflicts and Politics: Aspects of South Sudan's Kenyan Frontier; Immo Eulenberger
5. The Nuba Political Predicament in Sudan(s): Seeking Resources Beyond Borders; Guma Kunda Komey
6. Alternative Citizenship: The Nuer between Ethiopia and the Sudan; Dereje Feyissa 
7. The Rizeigat-Malual Borderland during the Condominium: The Limits of Legibility; Christopher Vaughan
8. Pulling the Ropes: Convenient Indeterminacies and the Negotiation of Power at Kaya's Border Checkpoint; Lotje de Vries
9. State-making and Emerging Complexes of Power and Accumulation in the Southern Sudan-Kenyan Border Area: The Rise of a Thriving Cross-border Business Network; Anne Walraet
10. Labour and the Making of Central African Borders; Edward Thomas
11. Whatever happened to the 'safe havens'? Imposing State Boundaries between the Sudanese Plains and the Ethiopian Highlands; Wendy James

Published in 2010, useful to re-read in 2014:

Southern Sudan at odds with itself: 

Dynamics of conflict and predicaments of peace

Download the report

This report's main undertaking is to deliver information that clarifies the reasons for increased intra-south violence. By reflecting on how people living and working in Southern Sudan have experienced events since the CPA, the report looks at ways in which intra-southern structures and international approaches have created some of the current predicaments of peace, and have contributed to the dynamics of ongoing conflict. It questions established narratives about the influence of the government of Khartoum or ‘tribalism’ being at the heart of the region’s problems. The report finds that other issues, some of which have been ignored or underemphasised – such as the lack of internal border demarcations – have a direct impact on local violence. It also identifies problems with the development/reconstruction/peace-building approach that have exacerbated tensions.In particular, current attempts to establish state institutions, notably at the local level, are actually making outbreaks of violence more likely. 

Above all, the report demonstrates the importance of moving away from simplistic categorisations in order to arrive at a more
multi-faceted analysis, one that takes into account the complexities on the ground.