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Faculty Profiles

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Noel Stringham, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of History

On Faculty since 2016
Blanchard 210




University of Virginia
Ph.D., African History, 2016

University of Virginia
M.A., African History, 2011

Bethel University
B.A., Magna Cum Laude, with Honors, History, 2007

  • African History
  • Modern Middle East
  • South Sudan
  • African Studies Association: member
  • American Historical Association: member
  • Sudan Studies Association: member

Historicizing Identity: The Evolution of Being Nuer in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries
Sudan Studies Association, University of Minnesota

What Ethnicity? Imagining New Histories of "the Other" in East Africa
African Studies Colloquium Series, University of Virginia

In the Words of the Ancestors: Nilotic Names and Eurasian Discourse of History
Sudan Studies Association, University of San Francisco

Marking for Marriage: Daughters and the 19th Century Scarification Revolution in South Sudan's Eastern Upper Nile
African Studies Association, Baltimore, MD

Engendered Conflicts in South Sudan: New Histories for a New Nation
African Studies Colloquium Series, University of Virginia

Jurisdictions of Foreignness: Government, Age-Sets, and Education in Condominium Southern Sudan
Sudan Studies Association, Ohio State University

  • Ninetieth and Twentieth Century Documents (in English and occasional Arabic)
  • Presbyterian Historical Society Archives
  • Philadelphia

It takes a village to raise a militia: local politics, the Nuer White Army, and South Sudan's civil wars, The Journal of Modern African Studies
Noel Stringham, Jonathan Forney, 2017
Why does South Sudan continue to experience endemic, low intensity conflicts punctuated by catastrophic civil wars? Reporters and analysts often mischaracterise conflicts in the young country of South Sudan as products of divisive ‘tribal’ or ‘ethnic’ rivalries and political competition over oil wealth. More nuanced analyses by regional experts have focused almost exclusively on infighting among elite politicians and military officers based in Juba and other major cities who use patronage networks to ethnicise conflicts. This paper argues instead that civilian militias known as the Nuer White Army have consistently rebelled against elites who they blame for mounting inequalities between urban areas and the rural communities regardless of their ethnicity. While unable to stop governments and NGOs from funnelling almost all their resources to the cities, these militias have consistently mobilised local resources for violent campaigns that redistribute wealth by pillaging urban areas.
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Marked for marriage: 19th century gender-based political transformations in the Eastern Upper Nile, Social Science Research Network, 2013
For over a century various writers have described a dramatic 19th-century ‘Nuer conquest’ of territory occupied by Dinka and Anywaa-speaking groups in the eastern Upper Nile, but none of their interpretations adequately explain why initially tiny Nuer bands assimilated tens of thousands of Anywaa and Dinka-speakers. This paper utilizes new field research to argue that 19th- century Nuer communities imported an age-set system that equated manhood with scarification and barred unmarked males from marrying their daughters. As a result, many Dinka and Anywaa males of relatively marginal standing in their own communities chose to undergo Nuer scarification to gain legal access to these daughters and to pool their resources with fellow age-mates rendering bride-wealth affordable. Dinka and Anywaa elders, who did not wish to see their communities disappear into Nuer initiation classes, reacted by inventing traditions which shaped the modern ethnic contrasts enshrined in the classic ethnographies of the eastern Upper Nile including creating their own scarification systems, developing ideologies of ethnic purity, and switching from exogamy to endogamy. Thus the major 19th-century political transformations were not inspired by military action nor environmentally predetermined but driven by parents and their daughters who created new standards for marking males as marriageable.
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