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This article draws on empirical data collected in Yei River County, South Sudan, to contribute to debates on hybrid governance in Africa. Current literature offers a limited understanding of the practical workings of hybridity, and particularly of whether and under what circumstances hybridity may meet the interests and solve the problems of citizens. This article discusses how subsequent historical attempts at state-building have left a complex and layered governance system and analyses how this system functions on the ground in Yei River County, focusing on the land and justice sectors. The empirical analysis reveals institutional development to be ongoing and to be shaped through continuous negotiations among local stakeholders. Whilst in the land sector, this process produced power imbalances and violence, in the justice sector, unexpected institutional cooperation improved access to justice for local citizens. Important factors in determining these institutional outcomes have been what we have termed the two P’s: pragmatism and power.
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