‘It’s the global’: these were the words which miners in Sierra Leone used to explain the global economic slowdown of 2007, the event which would lead to the global economic crisis of 2008, and to the continuing crises which flowed out from it. These words stand, very effectively, for the ways in which crisis at […]

Field notes from Kailahun and Kpemalu. The road network in Sierra Leone has much improved in recent years, especially since the first time I travelled to the Eastern Province in 2004. Today, the tarmac ends in Pendembu, a town 17 miles from the district headquarter town of Kailahun. The district is the most eastern part […]

Worldwide, the majority of refugees now lives in urban areas. Refugee camps have long since become the hallmark of prolonged refugee crises, so that researchers and aid organisations now increasingly focus on urban spaces. Dakar, the capital of Senegal, is a good example of such an urban haven. Central to the issue are the questions […]

The morning after a long night a well-deserved hangover can be treated with a variety of potent remedies. There is black coffee with lemon, raw egg with Tabasco, or just staying in bed and waiting for the hangover to pass. These antitoxins work for the alcohol-induced hangover. However, some anthropologists specialised in West Africa or […]

Hoffman, Danny (2012): The War Machines: Young Men and Violence in Sierra Leone and Liberia. Durham and London: Duke University Press. Critique of Anthropology 34: 124 (2014). Hoffman’s book looks at the lives of young men who participated in the Sierra Leonean (1991-2002) and Liberian (1989-1996, 1999-2003) wars, which, in his view, were so closely […]

Igor Kopytoff revolutionised our thinking on the origins of African ethnic identities by arguing that such identities were formed by and through frontier processes. These were the political and economic processes that came into play when groups splintered from existing populations and migrated into new zones on the edges of, or between, existing population groups […]

Audits and audit-like mechanisms have been as important in the colonial and postcolonial past of Sierra Leone as they are today, and yet their social consequences in this West African state have always been contested and unpredictable. Contemporary anthropologists of policy tend to see the present, global wave of auditing as part of a world-wide […]