A Phone without Names

Distrust and Duress in Côte d’Ivoire

in Conflict and Society
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  • 1 University of Basel k.heitz@unibas.ch
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Abstract

The anthropology of war has provided intimate analyses of how communities deal with hardship in violent conflicts. These clearly affect such communities’ social fabric, but exactly how is little understood. This article uses the lens of trust and distrust to analyze the effects of violent conflict on social relations. Through an ethnographic case study of a nurse during the 2002–2011 violent conflict in Côte d’Ivoire, I show how his trust in social norms, political opponents, and strangers in general became transformed into distrust. He stopped saving names in his phone to protect himself and people in his phone. The case highlights how experiences of duress can create distrust and how distrust can prolong conditions of duress by hindering the rebuilding of social trust.

Contributor Notes

KATHRIN HEITZ-TOKPA is Research Associate at the University of Basel, where she was awarded her PhD in social anthropology in 2013. She is Research Fellow in the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology at the Albert Ludwigs University of Freiburg and Associate Researcher at the Centre Suisse de Recherches Scientifiques en Cote d’Ivoire, where she is the program manager of the research consortium Afrique One-African Science Partnership for Intervention Research Excellence (Afrique One-ASPIRE) on One Health. She has conducted research on transformations of trust in violent conflict, neotraditional hunters, land transfers, and health systems. Email: k.heitz@unibas.ch

Conflict and Society

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