Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: 'Teeth and tongue jammed together' : violence in relationships and its mediation in Freetown, Sierra Leone
Author: Schneider, Luisa T.
ISNI:       0000 0004 7653 0243
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2018
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Full text unavailable from EThOS. Restricted access.
Access from Institution:
Based on 13 months of fieldwork in households, communities, police stations, courts and the prison in Freetown, this thesis extends the classic model of gender complementarity by demonstrating how competing gender ideologies of household, community and state impact on partnerships in urban Sierra Leone that are interlaced with friction and violence. I utilise the metaphor of 'teeth and tongue', to show how love and violence can be coconstitutive. Within various relationship forms, violence is perceived as part of a functional partnership, however, carefully differentiated according to a moral economy of relationships. Legitimated or 'acceptable' violence is constitutive of affection and love, whereas transgressive or 'unacceptable' violence is reported to household, community or the police. The thesis argues that to households and communities, violence constitutes a relationship between people which must be cooperatively mediated to maintain social bonds. For state institutions, violence is an act executed by individuals. Here, punishment and imprisonment ruptures relationships and dissolves social bonds. The thesis is set against the post-conflict and post-TRC watershed where laws were passed to rebuild the state, and to prevent rape, teenage pregnancy and domestic violence. It shows that these laws were inspired by human rights and development discourses but led to the criminalising of young people's sexual behaviour. By raising the age for sexual consent from 14 to 18, boys now receive prison sentences of up to 15 years for sleeping with underage girlfriends. The thesis explores how rigid laws rub against contingent social categories and how the criminalisation of sexual relationships clashes with normalisations of violence in speech, acts and relationships. It uncovers that these tensions are based upon different ideals of gender relations and gendered perceptions of violence. The thesis thus offers an ethnographic critique of concepts like love and violence that are often used by academics in ways that fail to capture the vernacular resonances and connotations of the terms in West African popular culture and social life. Based on the framework of competing gender ideologies, the thesis fosters new understandings of the anthropology of violence, love and law.
Supervisor: Pratten, David ; Sarro, Ramon Sponsor: Royal Anthropological Institute (RAI)/Sutasoma Award ; School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography SAME Prize ; Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Anthropology