Poisoning at the periphery: allocating responsibility across the Uganda/South Sudan borderlands

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This paper presents ethnographic evidence from three sites across the Uganda/South Sudan borderlands. At each location, procedures to identify alleged poisoners were documented. Novel voting processes were initiated by hybrid local authorities. Addressing widespread anxiety about proximate wrong-doing seemed to promote order locally. In this paper, we discuss similarities between locations and review what constitutes poison. Descriptions of indigenous electoral processes are then provided. We reveal the contested nature of accountability, responsibility and democracy at the intersection of the spiritual ontologies and codified law. We argue that hybrid constellations of authority operate along different logics than those of development experts.

Elizabeth Storer

London School of Economics and Political Science

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