'Ah Lef ma Case fo God'

Religious Belief and Personal Autonomy in Sierra Leone's Postwar Reconciliation

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Abstract

This article describes a qualitative ethnographic analysis of local experiences of truth-telling in Sierra Leone. Whereas proponents of truth commissions claim that such processes promote postwar reconciliation, this study found that local religious belief impeded such effects. While belief did enhance the local willingness to reconcile, in tandem with postwar insecurity it also promoted a reliance on secondary control mechanisms wherein individuals subjugated their own agency in reconciliation to the power of God. Within this context the man-made processes of the truth commission were experienced by local people as redundant at best and provocative at worst.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)131-143
Number of pages12
JournalPeace and Conflict: The Journal of Peace Psychology
Volume18
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2012

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Sierra Leone
reconciliation
god
autonomy
experience

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abstract = "This article describes a qualitative ethnographic analysis of local experiences of truth-telling in Sierra Leone. Whereas proponents of truth commissions claim that such processes promote postwar reconciliation, this study found that local religious belief impeded such effects. While belief did enhance the local willingness to reconcile, in tandem with postwar insecurity it also promoted a reliance on secondary control mechanisms wherein individuals subjugated their own agency in reconciliation to the power of God. Within this context the man-made processes of the truth commission were experienced by local people as redundant at best and provocative at worst.",
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AB - This article describes a qualitative ethnographic analysis of local experiences of truth-telling in Sierra Leone. Whereas proponents of truth commissions claim that such processes promote postwar reconciliation, this study found that local religious belief impeded such effects. While belief did enhance the local willingness to reconcile, in tandem with postwar insecurity it also promoted a reliance on secondary control mechanisms wherein individuals subjugated their own agency in reconciliation to the power of God. Within this context the man-made processes of the truth commission were experienced by local people as redundant at best and provocative at worst.

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