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The Possibilities of Failure : Personhood and Cognitive Disability in Urban Uganda

Title data

Zoanni, Tyler:
The Possibilities of Failure : Personhood and Cognitive Disability in Urban Uganda.
In: The Cambridge Journal of Anthropology. Vol. 36 (2018) Issue 1 . - pp. 61-79.
ISSN 2047-7716

Abstract in another language

This article offers a person-centred analysis that closely attends to lives shaped by cognitive disability in Uganda. It reflects on the most widely used Ugandan term for disability, obulemu, which literally means ‘state of failure’. Ugandans with cognitive disabilities are often perceived as failed people (abalemu) insofar as they depart from dominant scripts for being human. Yet departures are also beginnings, and I attempt to think failure otherwise. Rather than understand these supposed failures in negative terms – as loss and diminishment of collective and personal possibilities – I focus on the possibilities of failure, tracing what arises around ‘failed people’ in terms of therapeutics, care and personhood. The article intervenes in a wider anthropological conversation about personhood. Rather than privileging cultural concepts of the person or the successful social realization of personhood, as much of that conversation does, the article takes inspiration from Meyer Fortes and makes ‘failures’ of personhood central.

Further data

Item Type: Article in a journal
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Africa; care; Christianity; Meyer Fortes; therapeutics; voice
Institutions of the University: Faculties
Faculties > Faculty of Cultural Studies
Faculties > Faculty of Cultural Studies > Professor Anthropology of Africa
Result of work at the UBT: No
DDC Subjects: 300 Social sciences > 300 Social sciences, sociology and anthropology
Date Deposited: 06 Jun 2019 06:56
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2022 14:12