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Speaking with a ‘soft voice’: professional and pragmatic civilities amongst South Sudanese NGO leaders

Robinson, Alice (2023) Speaking with a ‘soft voice’: professional and pragmatic civilities amongst South Sudanese NGO leaders. Peacebuilding, 11 (3). 257 - 272. ISSN 2164-7259

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Identification Number: 10.1080/21647259.2023.2209400


This article examines the forms of ‘civility’ promoted by South Sudanese NGO leaders and staff in their efforts to navigate a context of pervasive political repression. Drawing on in-depth, life-work history interviews, it shows how the careful cultivation of a ‘non-political’ identity was a way of securing space to operate in a highly militarised, politically restricted environment, of working across the divisions created by conflict, and of creating small spaces for change. The article also points to the limitations of these non-political positions, to the struggles of aspirational projects to overcome the inequalities in which they are embedded, and to the risk of reproducing the hierarchies and exclusions of the wider humanitarian industry. For external actors engaged in ‘localisation’ efforts, the discussion is a reminder that decisions about which organisations to fund are inherently political, with implications for dynamics of inequality and marginalisation in South Sudanese (civil) society.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2023 The Author
Divisions: International Development
Subjects: J Political Science > JZ International relations
J Political Science > JC Political theory
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
Date Deposited: 11 May 2023 13:00
Last Modified: 27 Feb 2024 20:00

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