Medicine for Uncertain Futures: A Nigerian City in the Wake of a Crisis

Researcher: Ulrika Trovalla (formerly Andersson)

The Nigerian city of Jos used to be seen as a peaceful place, but in 2001 it was struck by clashes that arose from what was largely understood as issues of ethnic and religious belonging. The event, which would become known as ‘the crisis’, was experienced as a rupture and a loss of what the city had once been, and as the starting point of a spiral of violence that has continued up to today. With the crisis, Jos changed. Former friends became enemies, and places that had been felt to be safe no longer were so. Previous truths were thrown into confusion, and Jos’s inhabitants found themselves more and more having to manoeuvre in an unstable world coloured by fear and anger. This research analyses the processes that were shaping the emergent city of Jos and its inhabitants in the aftermath of the crisis. At its core are some of Jos’s practitioners of traditional medicine. As healers, diviners, and providers of spells to protect from enemies or solve conflicts, they had special skills to influence futures that were becoming more and more unpredictable. Still, the medical practitioners were as vulnerable to the changing circumstances as everyone else. Their everyday lives and struggles to find their footing and ways forward under the changing circumstances are used as a point of departure to explore larger wholes: life during times characterised by feelings of uncertainty, fragmentation, fear, and conflict – in Jos as a city and Nigeria as a nation.

Traditional medicine
Ulrika Trovalla
West Africa
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