30.2 C
City of Banjul
Thursday, October 21, 2021

Theorising The Disfigured Body: Mutilation, Amputation and Disability Culture in Post-Conflict Sierra Leone by Ernest Cole

The latter is co-authored with Dr Ustace Palmer a former lecture of Mr Cole’s at the Fourah Bay College (FBC).

The first book explores the mutilated body as signifier of possession, control and domination. It examines the interconnections between the wound or mark on the body and the identity of the individual and affirms that wounding is naming and attests to its power to influence the position of the individual in the world and his destiny. This book uses in addition to war memoirs and journalistic narratives published between 1991 and 2001, personal testimonies of victims published in the annual report  of Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Sierra Leone in 2004 to the fore ground the authors argument of the body that signifies possession, identification and maiming and argues that the amputated or mutilated body is constructed around ambivalence: as text/ signifier of domination and control, but also of resistance, rejection and invention. The book interrogates, contests, and re-works the notion of dependency and dysfunction associated with the amputated body by re-thinking the mutilated or amputated body as sites where the narrative of oppression and marginalisation are contested and reversed. It hypothesises that the amputated body, through agency informed by irony and paradox, denies, and subverts its stereotypes. It explores possibility of reclaiming the body and of engaging both physical challenges and psychological trauma. It amplifies the theory of complex embodiment and argues that the amputated body ‘read’ both in terms of its impairment as well as it potential. Through the theory, the disfigured body is neither constructed entirely from its place in the environment. Rather, it acknowledges the social construction while also embracing the physical impairment.

“Deeply theoretical and ethically engaged, Cole’s Theorising the Disfigured Body is an important contribution to the ongoing scholarly conversations about the social construction of the physical self in the context of post-colonial studies. Based on personal experiences and interviews in the amputee camps of Sierra Leone, as well as narratives published and official documents of the civil war in his home country, Cole’s work complicates the meaning of “amputation” and “trauma” for both perpetrator and the so –called victims of wartime atrocities” – William Panapacker, PhD, Professor of English, Hope College, USA. 


About the author

A Sierra Leonean by birth and parentage Ernest attended Methodist Boys High School in Freetown and proceeded to the University of Sierra Leone (FBC) where he obtained his bachelors and masters degrees in English language and literature in English. He served his alma mater as a lecturer in English Language and Literature in English (1990 – 1996) prior to his travel to The Gambia. In The Gambia he joined the Gambia College (1996 – 2000) as a lecturer in the School of Education and later succeeded Mrs Yevette Phillot as head of English Department. Ernest occupied the position until his departure to join the University of The Gambia (2000 -2003) where he made his mark to the admiration of students and colleagues alike.

Ernest Cole is Associate Professor of English and Towsley Research Scholar at Hope College, Michigan, where he teaches Post–Colonial Literature with emphasis on sub-Saharan Anglophone Africa, India and the Caribbean. Previously he taught African Literature at Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone (1990 – 1996), The Gambia College (1996 – 2000) and presented a paper “The changing trends in the African novel – Colonialism to contemporary Africa” November 27 1991 chaired by Dr Yaya Bojang then vice principal of The Gambia College and attended by the chairman Gambia College council, Mr Gabriel Robert a literature scholar himself. He has published articles and book  reviews on post-colonial literature in the Journal of African Literature Association (JALA) as well as book chapters in A Critical Introduction to Sierra Leonean Literature (AWP, 2008) and African Cultures and Civilisations (Atlantis Books, 2005).

Among the articles he published at the Daily Observer were: Freetown Monkey, Esmeralda: A Literary Point Of View, Esmeralda: A Review, Culture And The African Predicament (22nd February  2001), Africa’s Unity: Linguistic Harmony And Diversity In A Common Culture (April 10th 2001), South Africa: A Betrayal Of African Solidarity (November 24th 2000), A Portrait Of The Literary Artist (November 27th 2001), African Literature In Comparative Perspective (July 30th 2002), Sierra Leone: The Legacy Of January 6 (January 12 2001), Robinson Crusoe: An Assessment (April 10, 2000).

Associate Professor Cole will spend part of his sabbatical leave in The Gambia and intends to serialise his new books in The Standard newspaper.


Join The Conversation

Latest Stories


The Gambian leg of the Queen's Baton relay to Commonwealth countries peaked in Banjul yesterday with vice president Isatou Touray leading a symbolic race...