Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Blood money in Sudan and beyond: Restorative justice or face-saving measure?
by Wilson, Jacqueline H., D.L.S., Georgetown University, 2014, 253; 3619119
Abstract (Summary)

This thesis assesses the restorative justice aspects of blood money processes used around the world but focuses primarily on Sudan and South Sudan. It examines sulha, judiya (Darfur), galad (eastern Sudan) and other processes using a mixed methods approach and a multi-site ethnography methodology. The paper scrutinizes these processes from foundational agreements, information gathering and truth-telling, through selecting a third party, and examines truces, exile, women's roles, compensation agreements, closing rituals, and implementation measures. The paper documents contemporary challenges facing these blood money processes such as collective responsibility, global trends like urbanization, widespread killing and retaliation that rises to a feud, situations where killer and killed are unknown to each other, and situations where blood money is paid by outsiders. I identify shortcomings within these processes relative to international legal norms and human values, as well as areas where they are consistent.

Using a restorative justice analytical framework, I determine whether blood money processes are restorative and constitute justice, and ask whether these traditional mechanisms are sufficiently robust to stop the cycle of violence. I examine concepts of reconciliation, including truth telling, recognition, rituals, and forgiveness. I consider cultural, historical, and psychological aspects of retaliation and revenge, as well as the Arabic concepts of qisas, (retaliation) and tha'r (blood feud), cultural codes of honor and shame (sharaf and 'ayb), and the complex Dinka (and Nuer) concept of cieng, to assess factors impacting blood money's effectiveness at breaking the cycle of violence, as well as examining the role it plays in preserving honor (or saving face).

I determine that, in many cases, these compensation processes are not fully restorative, in large measure because some key aspects of their practice are circumvented or neglected, or due to other challenges facing these processes. Yet their primary aim remains to restore communal relationships, and they continue to hold value for many people. I conclude by recognizing that blood money processes may be the most accessible and culturally acceptable conflict resolution practice in ungoverned spaces experiencing violent conflict, and therefore recommend improving, not replacing, these practices.

Keywords: diya; blood money; restorative justice; sulha; judiya; rule of law; tha'r ajaweed; reconciliation; multi-site ethnography; sharaf, honor, 'ayb, cieng, qisas

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Voll, John O.
Commitee: Fluehr-Lobban, Carolyn, Kritz, Brian A.
School: Georgetown University
Department: Liberal Studies
School Location: United States -- District of Columbia
Source: DAI-A 75/08(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: African Studies, Cultural anthropology, Peace Studies
Keywords: Blood money, Customary law, Diya, Qisas, Restorative justice, Sulha
Publication Number: 3619119
ISBN: 9781303878305
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