Fellowship: Rocca Dissertation Research
Fellowship Year(s): 2014
Project/Theme Title: Against Humanity: Life, Violence, and Rebellion in an African Postcolony
Abstracts: In both ‘local’ and ‘global’ imaginaries, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) is the proverbial ‘heart of darkness’, a violent specter against which certain notions of humanity are constructed. Operating in the wild ‘bush’, carrying out ‘brutal’ killings, abducting and forcefully conscripting children -- all without ‘reason’ -- the LRA appear to international activists and local civilians alike as inhuman monsters. But if these notions contradict actually existing rebel cosmologies and experiences (which, I show, they do), how does one begin to see or reconstruct humanity in the shadows of their ‘inhuman’ lives, experiences, and ideas? This dissertation, based on 13 months of ethnographic fieldwork in northern Uganda, examines the meaning and richness of the violent lives of ex-rebels that disrupt normative discourses about the concept of ‘humanity’, asking us to deeply question what it means to be human today and challenging existing constructions of the human in both their form and content.