DISPLACING VIOLENCE: Making Pentecostal Memory in Postwar Sierra Leone:

ROSALIND SHAW

In this article, I seek to locate the anthropology of social recovery within the work of memory. Following a decade of violent armed conflict in Sierra Leone, displaced youth in a Pentecostal church write and perform plays that are silent on the subject of the war, but renarrate it in the idiom of spiritual warfare against a subterranean demonic realm known as the Underworld. Ideas of the Underworld are part of a local retooling of the Pentecostal deliverance ministry to address Sierra Leone's years of war. Through their struggle against the Underworld, these Pentecostal youth reimagine Sierra Leone's war, reshaping experiences of violence that have shaped them and thereby transforming demonic memory into Pentecostal memory. Just as their own physical displacement is not an entirely negative condition, their displacement of violent memory is enabling rather than repressive. By "forgetting" the war as a direct realist account and reworking it through the lens of the Underworld, they use war itself to re-member their lives. Although they do not lose their memories of terror and violence, they learn to transform these in ways that allow them to create a moral life course in which they are much more than weak dependents.