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Durham University

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Publication details for Dr Cherry Leonardi

Leonardi, Cherry (2011). Paying 'buckets of blood' for the land: moral debates over economy, war and state in Southern Sudan. Journal of Modern African Studies 49(2): 215-240.

Author(s) from Durham


This paper challenges the prevailing focus on ethnic division and conflict in Southern Sudan in recent years, demonstrating that even within ethnically divisive debates over land, there are shared, transethnic levels of moral concern. These concerns centre on the commodification and monetisation of rural and kinship resources, including human life itself, epitomised in ideas of land being bought with blood, or blood being turned into money by the recent wartime economy. It argues that the enduring popular ambivalence towards money derives not only from its commonly observed individualising properties, but also from the historical association of money with government. Southern Sudanese perceive historical continuity in government consumption and corruption, and express concern at the expansion of its alternative value system into rural economies during and since the war. Whilst seeking to access money and government, they nevertheless continue to employ a discursive but powerful dichotomy between the moral worlds of state and kinship.