Coping with the wounds of violence in Karamoja, northeastern Uganda
Paper short abstract:
This presentation focuses on herders' etiology and folk therapies of common illnesses related to state violence in northeastern Uganda. It indicates creative resourcefulness of body in rebuilding worlds and inextricably associated risk of biomedicine to personal and social bodies.
Paper long abstract:
Drawing on ethnographic research conducted in Karamoja, northeastern Uganda, during forcible disarmament policy and state-imposed sedentarization followed by influx in medical aid, this presentation explores roles the bodies play in reflecting the way the patient experience and understand their distress, reconfiguring identity in accordance with the natural social landscape and rebuilding the conflict-destroyed society. For the perpetrators wishing to dominate people, self-identity, everyday lives, and physical body become their targets of violence. Thus it affects the physical and social well-being of people through the destructive forces of bombs, bullets, sticks, and military boots, and through the disruption of subsistence by which to address their health needs, the scarcity of food and the spread of illnesses that embody such disruptions. People understand the local illness related to violence in terms with socially emotional life, which means its contextualization in personal and social bodies. Personnel engaged in clinical care separate such an illness from the context of social turmoil by hypostatizing human nature of violence, and at once place it within the individual body and authorize themselves over "bodily fact" by diagnosing. Understanding local illness related to violence within biomedicine is another kind of violence for those coping with the chronic instability, resisting violence and recourse toward reestablishing their life-worlds is the integral part of healing. Describing how people interpret somatic expressions is crucial in understanding the complex and creative way how they come to term with illness and how it can be coped with.