Conflict, Agency, and Control: The Intersection of Violence and the Body during the Mano River War



Stewart, Julia R

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The violence that ravaged Sierra Leone and Liberia during the recent Mano River War was characterized by the central role of the physical body in all aspects of the conflict. The body served as a site for the contestation of power and control by the perpetrators and victims of violence alike. Furthermore, the role of dead bodies during the war reflected and perpetuated the violence that was directed at the living population. The population reasserted authority over their lives and identities by reclaiming their bodies via the experience of individual and collective illnesses such as haypatensi, a localized understanding of the condition of hypertension, and nighttime sleep paralysis, known as njombo-bla attacks. An anthropological perspective into the wartime embodiment of violence sheds light on the connection between the experiences of the body during the conflict and a strikingly similar experience, or fear thereof, that occurred during the Ebola epidemic that began a decade later.



Embodiment of violence, Conflict, West Africa, Humanitarianism, Necropolitics