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Title: Confronting marginality and otherness : knowledge production and the recasting of identity through therapeutic and embodied encounters among internally displaced people from Southern Sudan
Author: Ahmed Abdel Aziz Yacoub, Azza
ISNI:       0000 0004 5346 5223
Awarding Body: SOAS, University of London
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 2014
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This thesis explores experiences of internal displacement and identity formation among Southern Sudanese people who have relocated to Khartoum. It seeks to show how therapeutic events and therapeutic sites are integral to the process of knowledge production. I argue that the structural relationship between space, illness and identity within Khartoum is continually being challenged and reworked through new forms of therapeutic practice through which people remake the city, overcome the difficulties of displacement and move towards remediation. This often involves adopting new beliefs about the nature of healing that call into question or replace pre-existing beliefs and practices that were previously based in ethnic identity. Consequently I argue that people use therapy and narrative creativity to craft new ways of being, belief and self-understanding in their quest towards health in the context of displacement. Based on eighteen months of fieldwork, the thesis involves an ethnographic analysis, of formal and informal therapeutic contexts, through close relationships with patients and healers who were willing to share their experiences and practices, as well as within residential neighbourhoods that are marginalised and therefore allow healing practices that are not sanctioned within the centre of the city. The Southern Sudanese population encompasses Acholi, Balanda, Baria, Dinka, Kreish, Nuer, Shilluk and Zande. However within the context of Khartoum this diversity becomes subsumed under the single category of 'Janoubiyin' (Southerners) versus the 'Shamaliyin' (Northerners). Consequently, specific ethnic identities and cultural differences are less visible within the city, allowing for the creation of new Southern identities that are not based in historical and categorical distinctions. By focussing specifically on Janoubiyin health seeking practices at times of crisis I examine how people actively recast their pre-existing identities through the therapeutic encounter. Therapy in this context can be defined as people's active responses when encountering distress, disease, misfortune and suffering with the aim of restoring equilibrium and 'normality' to their life. Therapy allows persons to transform themselves and their circumstances. Moreover, by exploring how different therapeutic interventions, including the 'biomedical', the 'traditional' and 'the hybrid', are linked to space I examine how people use their marginal identities to move between, use and appropriate a range of 'official' and 'non-official' healing contexts within and around the city. By examining the position of the body-in-place and movement the thesis equally comments and offers a re-evaluation of the wider concerns about the modern Sudanese identity, formed in the wake of independence. Tracing the polemical nature of identity - through health seeking behaviours in Sudan - locates the position of southern internally displaced persons (IDPs) within this debate, and establishes internal displacement as a separate category of marginalisation.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available