Questioning Misfortune: The Pragmatics of Uncertainty in Eastern Uganda
Some of the most interesting ethnographies of experience are concerned to highlight the indeterminate nature of life. Questioning Misfortune is very much within this tradition. Based on a long-term study of adversity and its social causes in Bunyole, eastern Uganda, it considers the way in which people deal with uncertainties of life, such as sickness, suffering, marital problems, failure, and death. Divination may identify causes of misfortune, ranging from ancestors and spirits to sorcerers. Sufferers and their families will then try out a variety of remedial measures, including pharmaceuticals, sorcery antidotes, and sacrifices. But remedies often fail, and doubt and uncertainty persist. Even the commercialisation of biomedicine, and the peril of AIDS can be understood in terms of a pragmatics of uncertainty.
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List of illustrations
1 Misfortune and uncertainty
2 The pursuit of health and prosperity
3 Going to ask
4 At home with the dead
5 The fertility of clanship
6 Little spirits and child survival
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action affliction agnates AIDS amulets ancestors animals asked banana beer biomedicine bridewealth brought Bugwere Buhabeba Bunyole Busoga Busolwe called cause child chloroquine clan spirits clansmen client co-wife common curse removal curser daughter dead death Dewey died diviner diviner's ekuni exogamy experience explanatory idiom father goat gourd rattles Hamala healers health workers herbal medicine hospital husband illness John Dewey Kampala killed kind lamuli land lineage little spirits living Lubuya Malijani Manueri marriage married Mbale medicine medium mediumship millet food mother mother's brother Mukama Muslim Namugosa Nandiriko neighbours Nyole offered Omuhyeeno parents patient person polygynous pragmatic problems quarrel relations relationships relatives ritual sacrifice second funeral ceremony sense shades shrine sick sister skin social someone sometimes sorcery speak suffering symptomatic symptoms things tion told Tororo District treatment uncertainty victim Walumbe Wandera Whyte wife wives woman women words