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‘Black’ and ‘white’ death: burials in a time of Ebola in Freetown, Sierra Leone

Lipton, Jonah (2017) ‘Black’ and ‘white’ death: burials in a time of Ebola in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 23 (4). pp. 801-819. ISSN 1359-0987

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Identification Number: 10.1111/1467-9655.12696


The article examines experiences of the 2014-15 Ebola crisis in Freetown, Sierra Leone, through an analysis of the performance of burials. While most of the city's residents had no contact with the virus, ‘Ebola’ was inescapable, owing to the onerous state of emergency regulations imposed by national and international authorities. All burials, regardless of the cause of death, were to be performed by newly established official teams operating according to unfamiliar biomedical and bureaucratic protocols. Burials became emblematic of the crisis through presenting a conflict between local practices and novel procedures, which was coded locally in a complex racial language of ‘black’ and ‘white’, recalling a long regional history of violent integration into the Atlantic World. Building on long-standing anthropological discussion on the relationship between ‘good’ death and social order, the article explores how burials became sites around which opposing ‘orders’ were experienced, negotiated, and reconciled in locally meaningful ways.

Item Type: Article
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Additional Information: © 2017 Royal Anthropological Institute
Divisions: Anthropology
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
Date Deposited: 10 Jan 2018 11:56
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2021 03:24

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