Browsing by Subject "Acholi"

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  • Laivo, Soila Pauliina (Helsingin yliopisto, 2018)
    This thesis answers to a question “Why adolescent girls drop out of school in Northern Uganda?” In Uganda, approximately 70% of the children drop out of public school before 7th grade, the final year of primary school. In northern Uganda, girls drop out of school in more significant numbers than boys, and it happens around the age when girls reach puberty. Northern Uganda is also a particular location because it is recovering from long conflict, affecting strongly the whole population living in the area. The thesis is based on two-month ethnographic fieldwork in northern Uganda during the spring of 2015. To answer the main research question this study seeks to analyse it through taking a look how the school, the community and the girls themselves experience and talk about dropping out, education and growing up in the current post-conflict state of the social life. The thesis argues that the dropout rate is linked to the adolescence as life-stage of becoming an adult that is making the girls to make decisions about the future. The analysis is done through three different perspectives – the educational, societal and personal narratives of the youth. The first perspective is the education and schooling in northern Uganda. It explores the concept of ’educated person’ by Levinson and Holland through sexual education and gender in education. The study shows that Ugandan public primary and secondary education is deriving its ideas and understanding of educated person from the national curriculum, which often conflict with the local concepts of the educated person in the Acholi community, influencing the blamed and real reasons for dropping out. The second perspective looks into the community and the societal pressures the girls are facing when growing up. It will describe family, kinship, marriage and gender in post-conflict context and show how in these areas of life, the past conflict, “loss of culture”, generational conflicts and subsequent disobedience are presented as reasons behind the challenges to stay in school. The third perspective tells the stories of the girls met and talked to during the ethnographic fieldwork in Northern Uganda. It answers the question “What is happening in the life of a girl when she drops out of school?”. It is argued that the girls take actions of a gendered agency to further their lives and become adults. Thus, dropping out of school cannot just be explained as a simple event just suddenly happening without their own will. It will further answer the question “What makes some girls stay in school?” to show how those girls still in school manage the crosscurrents of growing up in Acholiland. The thesis argues that the girls in northern Uganda are active appropriators and social agents who through their own actions contest, struggle and penetrate the structures in their society while also at the same time reproduce them. In Northern Uganda, both the community and the state together with different international agencies will have plans and expectations for the girls’ future. The study shows how the girls navigate the school, community and peer expectations and sociocultural and economic structures to stay or finally drop out of school. These structures are state organised and aid-infused formal schooling and society in amidst of post-conflict recovery which creates a framework where the girls are acting. The school presents the modern and globally orientated educated person, and in contrast to it, the community is looking for to restore ‘traditional’ way of life. It is argued that these two sides are often in conflict and in the middle of this conflict the girls act and solve their way out of it, looking for adulthood and gaining respectable status in the society. The schools, the community and even sometimes the development actors see the girls as passively following the things they will encounter. The thesis will show that they are not. The girls either stay in school or drop out of it, but more often as a consequence of their own decisions and actions than passively because the school or the community could not support them. It is demonstrated that dropping out of school looks more of line a tactic for the future as a respectable grown-up than mere problem to be solved.
  • Alava, Henni Leena (2017)
    Christian churches have played crucial but diverse roles in public debates over homosexuality in Africa. In contrast to the vocal and explicit homophobia witnessed in many Pentecostal-Charismatic Churches (PCCs), homosexuality has until recently been an overwhelmingly silenced issue in the Acholi region of Northern Uganda, and an almost complete non-issue in the local Catholic Church. This article suggests that while this silence in part relates to the temporal proximity of the Northern Ugandan war, the absence of LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex) activism in the region, and the hesitance of mainline churches to talk about sex, it is also embedded in what are considered to be customary Acholi understandings of sexuality. Offering an analysis of Acholi Catholic teaching on peace and the family, the article suggests that Catholicism has entrenched heteronormative patriarchy in Acholi society. However, as illustrated by the unpopularity of church weddings, the norms that govern sexuality are negotiated in the dynamic space between religion and what are contemporarily understood as ‘modern’ and ‘customary’ Acholi moral sensibilities. The article emphasizes the need for scholarship on religion and homosexuality to extend beyond PCCs and capital cities, and beyond the most explicit forms of public homophobia in Africa.
  • Ahola, Niina (Helsingin yliopisto, 2019)
    This thesis looks at the post-war reintegration of and war trauma in the former Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebel force abductees in the Acholi subregion of northern Uganda. The work’s focus is on how the former LRA abductees make meaning of their subjective experience of trauma according to the Acholi world view and how these experiences guide their search for healing. These questions are examined in the context of three healing practices from which the formerly abducted research participants have sought help for their war-related psychological symptoms: public healthcare and non-governmental psychosocial trauma counselling, local ajwaka spirit mediums, and Pentecostal and Charismatic Christian churches. The research for this thesis is based on three-month-long ethnographic fieldwork consisting of participant observation, semi-structured interviews, group discussions, and other informal interactions in the Acholi districts of Gulu and Nwoya between October and December 2017. The core research participants are 20 formerly abducted LRA combatants (ten males and ten females aged between 24–55 years) who have returned back to civilian life before the northern Uganda conflict ended in 2006. Furthermore, medical professionals, trauma counsellors, ajwaka spirit mediums, Charismatic Christian pastor, and relatives of the core research participants were interviewed for this study. This thesis is built around medical anthropological theories of trauma and anthropological theories of subjectivity, where the former LRA abductees’ symptoms are approached through a three-dimensional theoretical framework of inner subjectivity, structural subjugation, and intersubjective relations. This thesis proposes that the war-related symptoms find their meaning through inner and bodily experiences, personal convictions, and subjective world views of their sufferers, which steer the former LRA abductees towards their preferred healing practices. However, these experiences are shaped by external constraints related to economic and sociopolitical subjugation under state rule, hierarchical social structure as well as intimate intersubjective power relations and cultural norms that can either enable or challenge the former abductees’ access to healing. The findings of this thesis suggest that even though the three healing practices approach war-related symptoms from ontologically different angles, they all offer meaningful tools to repair broken social relationships and retether the former abductees back to their social worlds in ways that can reduce trauma symptoms and foster healing. However, for various reasons the administered treatments sometimes fail, which forces symptom-sufferers to move beyond their preferred healing practices to find relief from their war-related symptoms. This thesis argues that the search for healing is full of uncertainty about the cosmological origin of symptoms, social tensions, and opaque motives of helpers. Thus, the healing process is dependent on intersubjective entanglements with kin, treatment providers, illness agents, and healing powers alike, which suggests that different forms of relationality lie at the centre of healing from war trauma. In conclusion, this thesis proposes that the gap between the former LRA abductees and the wider Acholi community has narrowed over the years since the conflict ended, but for some research participants the ongoing experiencing of war-related psychological symptoms still prevent them from fully participating in the Acholi society, which continues to hinder their reintegration. Until recently, the study of trauma in northern Uganda has revolved around the study of local spirits and Acholi rituals. The present study contributes to the broadening of the scope of the study of trauma among the Acholi towards other healing practices and provides a critical and multifaceted review of how the formerly abducted Lord’s Resistance Army combatants conceptualise their experience of war-related psychological symptoms from their socio-cultural perspective in post-war northern Uganda.