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The Underneath of Things Violence, History, and the Everyday in Sierra Leone by Mariane C. Ferme

The Underneath of Things Violence, History, and the Everyday in Sierra Leone


The Underneath of Things Violence, History, and the Everyday in Sierra Leone by Mariane C. Ferme

In this erudite and gracefully written ethnography, Mariane Ferme explores the links between a violent historical and political legacy, and the production of secrecy in everyday material culture. The focus is on Mende-speaking southeastern Sierra Leone and the surrounding region. Since 1990, this area has been ravaged by a civil war that produced population displacements and regional instability. The Underneath of Things documents the rural impact of the progressive collapse of the Sierra Leonean state in the past several decades, and seeks to understand how an even earlier history is reinscribed in the present.


The world is currently quite aware of Sierra Leone and its predicament, and it needs this well-informed and beautifully written account of what makes the country so wonderful despite its woes. Ferme's work is truly transcendent, capturing magnificently well some of the most important aspects of an otherwise 'difficult
ethnographic case. It is a truthful and honest piece of work, based on a deep grasp of the ethnographer

's craft. - Paul Richards, author of Fighting for the Rain Forest'

About the Author

Mariane C. Ferme Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology, and Chair of the Center for African Studies at the University of California, Berkeley.

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Book Info

Publication date

15th August 2001


Mariane C. Ferme

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University of California Press


299 pages


Physical anthropology
African history
20th century history: c 1900 to c 2000
Political control & freedoms
Regional studies
Cultural studies



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