Nuer: A Description of the Modes of Livelihood and Political Institutions of a Nilotic People (Hardcover)
In 1930, anthropologist E. E. Evans-Pritchard journeyed deep into the Sudanese savanna to uncover the mysteries of the nomadic Nuer tribes - this book presents his compelling discoveries.
The harsh dry plains of the Sudan cannot sustain sufficient agriculture for the tribes; to thrive, the Nuer move their camps in accordance with the seasons. At the core of daily life are cattle whose milk and meat sustain the people; the cow's pliant, agreeable nature is ideal for a tribe to manage. Nuer children are raised to learn how to properly treat and nurture cattle, through milking and assisting in the birth of new calves, that the tribe may continue to flourish thereby. Conflict within the tribes, or with outside enemies, often involves the control of cattle herds.
More than eighty maps, charts and photographs are included in this study, helping the reader to understand the topics. The author sought to live with the Nuer; it took months for him to achieve acceptance, and only once he had gained a measure of trust did the tribe demonstrate their unique ways of living and respond to questions. Though the Nuer are by nature wary and reserved, once he was accepted the author beheld their kindness and bonds to one another.
Evans-Pritchard went on to revisit the Nuer on multiple occasions, writing further ethnological researches on their religious practices, political structures, and unique way of life.