This article looks at the history of post-war state-building in South Sudan through a study of one of the region’s many return migration projects. South Sudan was arguably the subject of the first state-led mass repatriation campaign of twentieth-century Africa, after the first civil war that escalated in 1963 and ended in 1972 with the Addis Ababa Agreement. Using archival material from the newly reformulated South Sudan National Archives in Juba, this paper examines this comparatively forgotten post-war return and reconstruction project in South Sudan from 1969 to 1974. In this period, civil war ideas, staff, and techniques were recycled into an apparently benevolent and ‘peace-building’ project of Relief, Repatriation and Rehabilitation. The returns management project set out where the returning citizens of Sudan should go, how they should settle, live, and relate to the state.
This study argues that this project developed and entrenched particular wartime state ideas of its imagined South Sudanese population, and the nature of its compact with its society. It argues for a longer view of the continuities of war- and peacetime population control, as a way to explore postcolonial ideas of ‘good government’. The return and resettlement period also demonstrates the South Sudanese populations’ expanding repertoire of engagement as post-war citizens: return migration and resettlement projects are good opportunities for people to reformulate their skills and tactics of negotiating, approaching, cheating, and avoiding a ‘new’ state.
The article can be downloaded here.