Title: Narratives of Betrayal: The Creation of a Productive Other and a Flirtation with Genocide in Southeastern Guinea, West Africa
Name: Michael McGovern
Emory University
Year: 2003
Type: Dissertation Fellowship

The dissertation is a historical ethnography exploring multiple levels and sites of conflict as a means of understanding the links between a marginal peasant group and a series of states that encompassed it. It consists of two interconnected strands of analysis. One set of chapters focuses on the history and the political economy of violence in the region, from the time of the Atlantic Slave Trade to the present regional war that has engulfed Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea. These chapters explore the multiple institutions and social idioms people have used to manage and live with insecurity, ranging from marriage alliances to agricultural strategies to the "mystical arts of war."

The second strand explores the interconnections among ethnolinguistic identity, religion, and political rhetoric. These chapters analyze the differing modes of self-presentation used by the two language groups in the area of research (Loma-speakers and Manya-speakers), and the ways that their differing rhetorical styles were among the most important variables shaping their interactions with the colonial and postcolonial socialist states. These strands join in the analysis of the socialist state's attempts to do away with indigenous religion and the masquerades that accompany it. This violent suppression of a cultural patrimony that was simultaneously folklorized resulted both from a clash of rhetorical styles, and from the state's attempts to engineer new forms of political subjectivity and participation.