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"These Things Continue": Violence as Contamination in Everyday Life After War in Northern Uganda

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After decades of violent war, families are rebuilding their lives in the Acholi subregion of Northern Uganda. The return to normal order is marked by problems people see as consequences of the years of insecurity: mental illness, alcoholism, domestic violence, marital instability, and land conflicts that sometimes turn vicious. The ravages of war and years of constraint have left a legacy of troubles that is contagious and contaminating. The war is over, but people say that these things continue. In this article, we follow the case of one family and explore the social contagion and contamination of these things. We relate Acholi ideas of cen, the spirits of the vengeful dead, to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and phenomenological conceptions of violence and the alien in human experience.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)271-286
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2017

Bibliographical note

Special Issue: Social Contagion and Cultural Epidemics

    Research areas

  • violence, contamination, Uganda, the "alien, " cen spirits, PTSD

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