The ends of cutting in Ghana

Blood loss, scarcity, and slow harm after NGOs

by Saida Hodžić

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Female genital cutting is waning in northeastern Ghana, even though NGO and state discourses suggest otherwise. Women who no longer perform the practice do not, as anthropologists often posit, resist anticutting advocacy. Rather, they critique what NGO and state interventions leave unaddressed. These women understand the ending of cutting as an index of food scarcity and governance that saps their blood and vitality. Cutting had to stop, they say, because they could no longer afford to lose more blood. Drawing on indigenous and biomedical understandings of health and popular notions of occult economies, they critique the contemporary governance that simultaneously invests in their lives and causes bodily attrition. “Slow harm” reveals how the invisible violence of neoliberal democracy produces ordinary crises and makes bodies vulnerable.