Questioning Misfortune: The Pragmatics of Uncertainty in Eastern Uganda

Front Cover
Cambridge University Press, 1997 - Social Science - 258 pages
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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Contents

List of illustrations
xi
Acknowledgements
xii
Introduction
1
1 Misfortune and uncertainty
13
2 The pursuit of health and prosperity
34
3 Going to ask
60
4 At home with the dead
87
5 The fertility of clanship
108
7 Speaking of morality
155
8 Substances and secrecy
178
9 More questions
203
10 Consequences
224
Notes
233
References
242
Index
252
Copyright

6 Little spirits and child survival
132

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