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Rune Hjalmar Espeland

Across Africa, conflicts over land rights are increasingly centered on notions of autochthony. This article analyzes a violent event that took place in 2003 in connection with ethnically biased land redistribution in Western Uganda. Through the concepts of autochthony and communal violence, it analyzes the wider political context, tracing the processes from ethnic conflict to communal violence between autochthonous Banyoro and immigrant Bafuruki ethnic groups. Foregrounding the role of rumors in communal violence, it argues that rumors are not simply a response to conflict. Rather, they are constitutive of the situation, particularly in the formation of common moral imagination and in shaping the direction of social processes between the conflicting parties.