Work done by Eleanor Vandevort, a missionary in South Sudan from 1949 through 1963
Very little scholarly material exists about Southern Sudan, which can be readily explained given the unstable political situation and 50 plus years of civil war in the region; yet, the Nuer are known to most students of anthropology. In fact, it has been pointed out that the Nuer may well be the most important case study in the history of anthropology. This is a result of Sir Edward Evans-Pritchard’s classic studies from the 1930s. He was the first anthropologist working in Africa who used research methods based on long-term fieldwork and participant observation. Based on his fieldwork among the Nuer he published three ethnographies which are now classics in the field and studied by many students of anthropology (Evans-Pritchard 1940; 1951; 1956). In fact, he dedicated one of his books to the "staff of the American Mission at Nasser", which is where Ms. Vandevort was stationed. Jon Holtzman, author of a book about Nuer immigrants in the U.S. (Holtzman 2000), points out that 'virtually all introductory textbooks in anthropology make reference (and usually multiple reference) to the Nuer as a central example for various aspects of human culture.