Research Student: Maria Berghs
Amputee and war-wounded communities: A case study in Sierra Leone
In recent years, there has been a shift in anthropological attitudes towards the goals of ethnography and research, which has come from anthropologists themselves, calling for a more 'ethical' approach to fieldwork, and more studies that focus on how communities recover from violence and suffering.
This research project represents the first steps taken to elucidate such a struggle by the 'amutee and war-wounded' community in Sierra Leone. It aims to find out how a community is trying to find new positions, identities and images in a post-conflict society. Within a social model of disability framework, it is my hope that not only a descriptive picture emerges of how a community is created, empowered and sustained, but also that, initiated with the permission of the people themselves, new theoretical insights are brought forth within disability studies and anthropology, as well as a practical engagement with identifying some of the issues and needs faced by such a community in an African post-conflict and post-colonial context.
With the kind ethical permission of the community and in the interests of making research more accessible, I kept a simple blog during my fieldwork in Sierra Leone so the community could follow me. I hoped that this would allow community members who were interested, elders and gatekeepers to advocate their needs, criticisms and interests as well as have some sort of control over research information. (http://sierraleonereseach.blogspot.com). To supplement this I also engaged some members of the community in using visual methods (photography) to describe and document aspects of their lives.