“Gunya is a woman in her late twenties. Soldiers of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) abducted her when she was eleven years old and forcefully conscripted her into the rebel ranks. Gunya spent a little over the decade with the rebels before deserting. While there, she gave birth to a son with Onen, an LRA soldier. Though abducted, she expresses her continued support for the LRA and their tactics, admitting that she sometimes thinks of going back to the lum [bush] when life becomes hard as a civilian at home.”
This is not a book about crimes against humanity. Rather, it is an indictment of the very idea of ‘humanity’, the concept that lies at the heart of human rights and humanitarian missions.
Based on fieldwork in northern Uganda, Sam Dubal, an anthropologist and medical doctor, brings his readers to the very inner circle of the Lord’s Resistance Army, an insurgent group accused of rape, forced conscription of children, and inhumane acts of violence. Dubal speaks with former LRA rebels as they find personal meaning in wartime violence, politics, and spirituality—experiences that observers often place outside of the boundaries of humanity. What emerges is an unorthodox and provocative question—what would it mean to be truly against the idea of humaneness and benevolence? And how does one honor life existing outside the hegemonic notions of “good”?
Sam Dubal is a medical anthropologist and a surgical resident at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center.
“A courageous call for a revolutionary medicine to upset and upend the western, enlightened, global interventions by humanitarian doctors who are collaborators with the state and fueled by international donors and ecumenic interests to crush a guerrilla insurrection in the jungles of Uganda. Sam Dubal’s Against Humanity is an intimate portrait of the political passions, logical mysticism, crazy hubris, and humor of Joseph Kony’s soldiers, who were demonized by the West. This turning of the tables is ethnographic anthropology at its best: the difficult science that afflicts the comfortable and comforts the afflicted. The dangers of humanity and its pomps and its perils are made painfully clear."—Nancy Scheper-Hughes, Professor of Medical Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley
"A bold book, and a brave one. Swimming against the intellectual currents of our time, Dubal uses his ethnographic encounter with the Lord's Resistance Army to ask searching questions about the damage done by discourses of humanity and forms of moral reasoning that that render some people’s violence (and not others’) inhuman. His far-reaching argument challenges all those who would do good (in Africa or elsewhere) to think beyond humanist ethics by engaging with a wider set of social and political contexts and commitments."— James Ferguson, Professor and Chair of Anthropology, Stanford University
"This book is a challenging, committed, and open work that puts forth a comprehensive case for abandoning some of our most basic moral and intellectual articles of faith. It represents a novel intervention into the literature of political violence and its aftermath in Africa, and more broadly into anthropological debates around fundamental questions of ontology, politics, and ethics."—Adam Branch, Director, Centre of African Studies, University of Cambridge