The search for missing University of Washington Professor, Dr. Sam Dubal, has ended

Supplement 11/7/2020:

An expansion on original information regarding Sam Dubal’s work on the LRA in 2018:

On October 1, 2019, a video was posted to YouTube with the following title: Against Humanity: Why the Concept Does Violence to the Common Good. This talk took place at UC Berkeley, and the following description was provided:

This talk is not about crimes against humanity. Rather, it is an indictment of ‘humanity’, the concept that lies at the heart of human rights and humanitarian missions. Based on fieldwork in northern Uganda with former rebels of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), an insurgent group accused of rape, forced conscription of children, and inhumane acts of violence, I examine how ‘humanity’ conceptualizes the LRA as a set of problems rather than a set of possibilities, as inhuman enemies needing reform. Humanity hegemonizes what counts as good in ways that are difficult to question or challenge. It relies on very specific notions of the good – shaped in ideals of modern violence, technology, modernity, and reason, among others – in ways that do violence to the common good. What emerges from this ethnography is an unorthodox question – what would it mean to be ‘against humanity’? And how can a particular form of anti-humanism foster alternative, more radical efforts at social change in the realms of humanitarianism, medicine, and politics?

The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) formed in Northern Uganda in the late 80s. Dr. Dubal spoke on Joseph Rao Kony, a former church alter boy and the leader of the LRA, and highlighted that – post 9/11 – “the LRA found itself lumped together with terrorist groups like Al-Qaida, and blacklisted in the U.S. Patriot Act.” Warrants were issued in 2005 for crimes against humanity, among other charges. Of note, the group is thought to have been inactive for over a decade, and President Barack Obama sent 100 military advisors to Africa to organize action against the LRA; the mission ended in 2017.

“I do not ask how or why the LRA were or were not part of humanity; [] I ask why humanity would exclude the LRA. I treat rebel lives as the norm, and ask what we can learn from them about the concept of humanity,” Dubal said.

Original Posting:

The search for University of Washington anthropology professor Sam Dubal, who has been missing since Oct. 9 when he embarked on a 17-mile overnight hike on Mount Rainier in Washington state, has ended after a 15-day intensive search, according to his family.

“We carry your prayers, thoughts & good wishes for Sam Dubal as we begin to grieve and celebrate his remarkable life and kind soul,” tweeted his sisters, UC Hastings law professor Veena Dubal and UC San Francisco neuroscientist Dena Dubal, on Oct. 26. “After a thorough search, the outer limits of time for survivability have passed. Our deepest gratitude to all, including the brave searchers & community,” they wrote.

The Mount Rainier National Park Service did not release a report confirming that it had ended the search for Dubal.

Dubal, 33, is the son of Bharat and Saroj Dubal. The Stanford graduate attended medical school at Harvard, and then received his Ph.D. in medical anthropology from UC Berkeley in 2018. He had started to teach at the University of Washington’s anthropology department in June.

In 2018, Dubal published a book, “Against Humanity: Lessons from the Lord’s Resistance Army,” which drew from his ethnographic research of the LRA in Northern Uganda.

On Oct. 9, Dubal began his hike in the Mowich Lake area of Mount Rainier, an area that includes rugged, remote wilderness, according to the Park Service. He was supposed to return from the 17-mile loop trail the following day, but did not. Dubal’s family reported him missing Oct. 12.

A portion of the trail Dubal was hiking involved crossing over a small bridge on the Carbon River, which washed away Oct. 10.

After the Mount Rainier National Park Service announced it was stopping its search Oct. 23, Dubal’s family began an online petition implored park rangers to continue their search for the next 72 hours. The family noted that Sam Dubal is an experienced outdoorsman capable of managing the brutal weather and could have survived for two to three weeks with the type of gear he was carrying.

The Park Service resumed its search on Oct. 25. Mount Rainier National Park Service spokeswoman Patti Wold told India-West in an earlier interview that a search and rescue team, involving as many as 50 professionals, scoured every bit of the terrain Dubal had expected to pass through, according to his itinerary. Rangers employed drones, Forward Looking Infrared heat detection cameras from the air, helicopters, and canines.

Weather conditions have made it difficult for on the ground search and rescue as well as helicopters.

The Anthropology Department at UC Berkeley posted on their Web site: “We are hoping that our own Sam Dubal (Medical Anthropology PhD 2018), who has been missing in the Mount Rainier National Park for over two weeks, will return.”

“We continue to hope that he will be found and rescued. Professor Mariane Ferme is representing our department by joining the voluntary searches. Our hearts go out to his family, his students, his colleagues and his friends in this moment of great fear. We know Sam Dubal to be a strong and resilient anthropologist as well as a talented doctor.”

“May Sam return to his family and to ‘the family of men and women in anthropology’ who know him as a dear colleague or as a student or a mentor,” wrote the department.

Tributes to Dubal poured in on social media. Veena Dubal tweeted Oct. 29: “I’m struck that everyone who has sent me messages about my brother—whether they knew him for years or hours—feels and remembers the same thing: his kindness.”

“Sam, our love for you knows no bounds—not life, death, heaven or earth can keep us from being with you, and you with us,” she wrote.

As written by SUNITA SOHRABJI/India-West Staff Reporter
Supplemented by Joss Leal/Missing in U.S. National Parks and Forests (NPF)


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