Study Guide for E.E. Evans-Pritchard The Nuer
1. What were the colonial conditions when E-P began his study of the Nuer?
- What was the Anglo-Egyptian Condominium Government of the Sudan?
- What were the consequences of their policy of divide and rule in the Sudan?
- Who asked E-P to complete a study of the Nuer? Why?
- Why were the Nuer hostile to the British?
- What forms of violence are a direct consequence of colonial policies?
2. In evaluating an ethnography, you should begin with three questions:
- How did the ethnographer gain access to the community?
- How did/do the political arrangements mark the relationship between
- What theoretical concerns motivate the study?
- How do these three questions relate to E-P’s study of the Nuer.
3. What is cultural Translation?
- What did E-P mean when he spoke of a Bovine idiom of speech?
- Why did E-P argue the goal of anthropology should be interpretation rather
than functionalist explanation?
- What did E-P mean when he said anthropologists were “doubly alienated?”
And how might that lead to forms of objectivity, or ironic awareness?
4. The Nuer
- How did the ecology influence Nuer social patterns?
- How do the Nuer measure time?
- Lineages have a tendency to segment. Explain.
- What is a feud, and why are they significant? How do they differ from
wars? How are they resoved?
- How does marriage build political alliances?
- What was the relevance of aristocratic clans to tribal political structures?
- Examine the structural links between the following sentiments:
i. The enemy of my enemy is a friend?
ii. Me against my brother, my brother and me against the world?
iii. Home is where the cattle are?
- Why did British colonialists find tribal societies hard to govern?
- What are the features of tribal political structures? (PAGE 122)
- What is a Leopard Skin chief?
- What is a prophet? A prophet movement?
- What is structural functionalism?
• What EP is looking at is not what is needed for survival of humans as a being, but rather what are the constitutional parts of a society and how does that particular
society reproduce itself.
• Looking at the relationship between institutions, such as: kinship, religion,
economy, etc. and how these work to produce what he would think of as a cultural
• Each layer of this book and the way the pieces come together becomes more and
more complex as the book goes on.
Measurement of Structural Time
• According to event that are significant to the group
• Relative to structural space and are locally considered
• There are usually 6 to 7 age sets in a community at one time according to EP. In
other words, events mark time and they have a certain position is a social structure.
The people with the older memories, the more authority you have (esp. men)
o Ex: first age set – keeping village area clean
• Historical time
o The big things that have happened during our generation.
Ex: 911 for us
There social and historical memories work about the same
The oldest living members memories is the social memory of the
entire group; social memory is therefore dictated by the living
Cannot go back through historical m