Swears and swearing among Landogo of Sierra Leone: aesthetics, adjudication, and the philosophy of power
This dissertation discusses how swears and swearing enactments act as adjudicational mechanisms among Landogo of northern Sierra Leone. A swear (a kind of curse object) reveals power and aesthetic thought. As process, swearing articulates the moral and ethical substance of cosmological confrontation between witches and humans. My argument is advanced by case studies which offer a basis on which to analyze the interrelationship between witch crisis, swear adjudication, and swear agents with capacity. My analysis suggests certain conclusions: Landogo social reality and concepts of ideal social order are in a state of dialectical tension; various aesthetic tools and actions can be manipulated and contrived to transform some aspect of disorder; cosmological adjudication reveals a fluid and ever-changing basis of malevolent and benevolent power; and the ideology of order, through an appearance of certainty, cloaks fundamental uncertainty and disorder. Landogo systems of thought posit that the substance of confrontation is less important in the resolution process than the actual aesthetic representation of that same resolution. Hence, dramatic and performative representation creates power and control as qualities and states in time and space.
- Anthropology