Why Did You Come If You Leave Again? Volume 2


by Conradin Perner



Book Details

Language : English
Publication Date : 11/4/2016

Format : Softcover
Dimensions : 8.5x11
Page Count : 280
ISBN : 9781524503239
Format : Hardcover
Dimensions : 8.5x11
Page Count : 280
ISBN : 9781524503246
Format : E-Book
Dimensions : N/A
Page Count : 280
ISBN : 9781524503222

About the Book

The book Why Did You Come If You Leave Again? is an ethnographer’s personal account of the five years he spent in one of the remotest parts of Africa. In the author’s comprehensive monograph (eight volumes published by Schwabe) about the Anyuak, a little-known tribe in South Sudan, there was no space left for a portrait of the person who did the fieldwork, his professional and personal itinerary, his experiences and attitudes, his relationship with the local people—let alone for all the adventures he lived when crossing the wilderness and when struggling to stay alive. 

The travel autobiography sheds light on the long and tedious process of ethnographic fieldwork; it is both personal and profound, varying between moments of actions and reflections and eventually leading to an intimate encounter with an African culture. The many riveting stories told in the book are signposts of a spiritual, psychological, philosophical, and physically exhausting expedition through arid savannah, flooded plains, and compact walls of elephant grass to the spiritual home of a courageous people who have created in the middle of wilderness a center of humanity. Though the narrative is essentially about the discovery of a foreign culture, it also relates the exploration of the ethnographer’s own identity in an environment that didn’t offer any possibility to escape. 

The book is about thirst, starvation, loneliness and lightening, sickness and death, joy and deliverance, snakes and spirits, shadow, spittle and footprints, and eventually about the author’s quest for meaning, beauty, and understanding of the world. The memoir tells a saga about forlornness, hope, and achievement, and last but not least, growing friendships as the only reward for struggle and pain. The researcher’s autobiography is captivating for the soul and the mind. It is funny, sad, informative, inspiring, and poetic.

About the Author

Dr. Conradin Perner has worked as a professor of French literature; as an ICRC delegate in Asia, India, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Central Asia, and Africa; and as a commander of peacekeeping forces in the Nuba Mountains in Sudan. After fifteen years of ethnographic research on a little-known people in the east of South Sudan, he worked as a humanitarian agent and adviser for the ICRC, UNICEF, and UNESCO and eventually as a senior peace adviser for the Swiss government in South Sudan. Dr. Perner published books and articles in the field of literature, language, ethnology, human rights, culture, and peace building (as founder of the Gurtong website). In 2011, he was given an honorary citizenship of South Sudan in recognition of his humanitarian and cultural work, namely for the role he played in the epic rescue of the so-called Lost Boys. In 2013, he received an award from the Human Rights Commission in Austin, Minnesota, United States.