Life after loss : an anthropological study of post-war recovery, Teso, East Uganda, with special reference to young people
The thesis is a study of processes of post-war recovery in one rural parish, called Nyadar, in the Teso region of East Uganda following a period of sustained political conflict and corresponding loss in the Teso area. The conflict lasted from 1979 until 1991. Analysis of the post-war recovery is based upon ethnographic research conducted in Nyadar between September 1996 and March 1998. The thesis is concerned with the impact of war on cultural praxis in Nyadar. The thesis considers the five key areas identified by people in Nyadar as integral to the recovery process: recovery of the household, the role of young people, the recovery of material wealth, the recovery of emotional well being, the cosmological dimension of post-war recovery. The thesis documents the processes of post-war recovery with attention to the cultural resources mobilised in these key processes. In each of these areas the thesis assesses cultural consistency and change evidenced in the strategies of post-war recovery initiated by the population of the parish. Throughout the thesis priority is given to understanding the post-war cultural praxis through the perspective of the people of Nyadar. Heavy reliance is made on their idioms, narratives and voices. On a theoretical level the thesis engages with the problem of finding a suitable anthropological model of cultural change to do justice to the ethnography of post-war Nyadar. The thesis concludes that the only apt model of cultural change for the Nyadar material is the one proffered by the people of the parish themselves - that of a 'return to life'. A 'return to life' refers to the return to conditions that allows personal efficacy and to conditions that are consistent with how Iteso people understand their cultural praxis and identity. High profile is given in the thesis to the place of young people in processes of post-war recovery. It is argued that they are crucial actors in the transformation and conservation of cultural praxis in Nyadar for they reach the key stage of their life cycle in the conditions of post-war recovery.