EPICENTER Research Project

Trauma, Spirit Possession and the Devil

  • An ethnographic study of the plurality and pragmatics of healing in northern Uganda 

Trauma, Spirit Possession and the Devil. An ethnographic study of the plurality and pragmatics of healing in northern Uganda

My PhD.-project is on different conceptualizations and practices of trauma and spirit possession in northern Uganda. After generations of war followed by years of humanitarian assistance in norther Uganda a plurality of concepts and practices of suffering and healing exists in the Acholi region. The project sets out to explore how people suffering from generations of violence and war deal with their suffering, how they conceptualize it - as cen-spirits, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), trauma or devil possession – and how they seek healing by means of cleansing ceremonies, bio-medication and prayers.


My fieldwork will be done from 2016-2018 as case studies of how churches (Pentecostal, Catholic and Anglican), traditional healers (ajwaki) and psychologists and psychiatrist from the Global North deal with these problems of suffering and healing. And furthermore, by case studies of families and individuals who suffer from these problems and seek to navigate through the plurality of healing.

Contact Researcher

Lars Hedegaard Williams

PhD student

lhw@cas.au.dk