Non-Fiction Books:

The Land Is Dying

Contingency, Creativity and Conflict in Western Kenya

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The Land Is Dying by Paul Wenzel Geissler
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Based on several years of ethnographic fieldwork, the book explores life in and around a Luo-speaking village in western Kenya during a time of death: the epidemic of HIV/AIDS, which by the turn of the century had affected every aspect of sociality and pervaded villagers' debates about the past, the future and the ethics of everyday life. Central to such debates is a concern with touch in the broad sense of concrete, material contact between persons. In mundane practices as much as in ritual acts, touch is considered to be key to the creation of bodily life as well as social continuity. Underlying the significance of material contact is its connection with growth - of persons and groups, animals, plants and the land - and the forward movement of life more generally. Under the pressure of illness and death, economic hardship and land scarcity, as well as bitter struggles about the relevance and application of Christianity and "Luo tradition" in daily life, people found it difficult to agree about the role of touch in engendering growth, or indeed about the aims of growth itself. Yet they drew upon shared experiences and imaginaries in their struggles to restore a forward direction to their lives.

Author Biography

Paul Wenzel Geissler teaches social anthropology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the University of Oslo. He studied medical zoology in Hamburg and Copenhagen (Ph.D. 1998) and social anthropology in Copenhagen and Cambridge (Ph.D. 2003). Since 1993 he has worked in western Kenya, conducting first medical research and then several years of ethnographic fieldwork. The authors have published articles on kinship and ethics, religion and social change, and the anthropology of the body, healing and science. After studying social anthropology in London and Copenhagen, Ruth Prince is presently Smuts Fellow at the Centre of African Studies, Cambridge University. She has conducted ethnographic fieldwork in western Kenya since 1997, focusing on medical anthropology, kinship, religion and ritual.
Release date Australia
March 15th, 2010
Country of Publication
United Kingdom
1, black & white illustrations
Berghahn Books
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