Graham Greene, healing, Maria N’koi, subaltern, therapeutics
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A Nervous State is set in the southern regions of Congo’s large Équateur district from the Leopoldian era through the period of Belgian state rule, when Équateur formed a province of the Belgian Congo (1908–1960). While taking a usual chronological approach, Hunt wishes to transform our understanding of both the story of colonialism in the Congo and how history is researched and written.

Though the Équateur district witnessed some of the worst abuses of the État Indépendant du Congo (EIC) era, Hunt wants to move beyond an obsession with atrocities and what she calls an “event-aftermath” approach, which defines the history of the Congo through episodes of violence and their results. Instead, Hunt focuses on medical interventions, motion, healing, nervousness,...

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