Trade Networks and the Practical Norms of Taxation at a Border Crossing between South Sudan and Northern Uganda
This article provides an ethnographic insight into how the daily realities of state performance along the South Sudanese most Southern border of Magwi County are an outcome of negotiations between traders and state officials. It is argued that the ‘practical norms’ of taxation, meaning the actual rules that govern the actions of state officials, are largely framed by the way in which state officials and traders are embedded in different networks. The analysis distinguishes between regional trade networks of accumulation based on associative ties that appropriate elements of state performance and SPLM/A authority into their business practices, and local trade networks of survival based on communal ties that relate to state performance more through the informal institutions of kinship and subsistence security. It is demonstrated that the types of network ties and their embedded institutional content that connect traders and state officials yield very different practical norms with different implications for South Sudan's state-building process ‘from below’.