Ugandan prison staff both criticize and welcome human rights as a reform agenda that brings about insecurity as well as tangible improvements. In practice, human rights discourse is malleable enough for prison officers to cobble together a take on human rights that enables them to embrace the concept. The analysis of the emic notion of “reasonable caning” illustrates this malleability as staff concurrently take stands against inhumane violence and continue to legitimize caning while aligning with human rights. Human rights are locally negotiated, and it is argued that human rights reform cannot simply be analyzed as a submissive or opposing reaction to the top-down export of powerful global discourses. The embrace of human rights that unfolds in Ugandan prisons is rather a productive and multifaceted effort by prison officers to get purchase on legal technologies and reconceptualizations of prison management practices that affect their lives.
Tomas Max Martin
Sensing Uganda in a Time of Immobility
Richard Vokes and Gertrude Atukunda
We have been conducting collaborative ethnographic research together – most of it focussed upon Atukunda's natal village of Bugamba, in rural south-western Uganda – for over 20 years. A majority of this collaboration has taken place during Vokes
Embodied Socialities of HIV and Trauma in Uganda
Lotte Meinert and Susan Reynolds Whyte
pursue here. The material we explore in this article comes from separate research projects 1 in Uganda on two different conditions: HIV in central and eastern Uganda and trauma (and cen spirits) in the Acholi region of the north. These are illnesses
Refugee-Refugee Hosting in a Faith-Based Context
Pastor Justin came from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to Kampala, Uganda, with his family in 2012. They traveled by bus without knowing where to go or where to stay. On the bus, they met a Ugandan man who told them about Congolese
AIDS Responses in Uganda as Event and Process
Lotte Meinert and Susan Reynolds Whyte
This article explores the responses to the AIDS epidemic in Uganda as events and processes of projectification. AIDS projects became epidemic. Prevention and treatment projects supported by outside donors spread to an extent that made it hard for some to see the role of the Ugandan state and health-care system. We describe the projectified AIDS landscape in Uganda as projects make themselves present in the life of our interlocutors. We argue that the response in Uganda was syndemic; many different factors worked together to make an effect, and the epidemic of responses did not undermine the Ugandan state but played a crucial part in rebuilding the nation after decades of civil war. A problematic consequence of the projectified emergency response to epidemics such as HIV/AIDS, which is a long-wave event, is that projects have a limited time frame, and can be scaled down or withdrawn depending on political commitment.
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.
A Comparative Perspective on Youth in Marginalized Positions
Susanne Højlund, Lotte Meinert, Martin Demant Frederiksen, and Anne Line Dalsgaard
The article explores how societal contexts create different possibilities for faring well towards the future for young marginalized people. Based on a comparative project including ethnographies from Brazil, Uganda, Georgia and Denmark the authors discuss well-faring as a time-oriented process based on individual as well as societal conditions. The article argues that in order to understand well-faring it is important to analyse how visions and strategies for the future are shaped in relation to local circumstances. Whether it is possible to envision the future as hopeless or hopeful, as concrete or abstract or as dependent on family or state is a ma er of context. Well-faring is thus neither an individual nor a state project but must be analysed in a double perspective as an interplay between the two.
In this article I explore links between fieldwork experience and different conceptions of time as they are encountered in what I term 'episodic fieldwork'. I use 'episodic' to emphasize the importance of absence and return for fieldwork relationships and the ethnographies that are founded on these relationships. I draw on Simmel's concept of sociability to explore the significance of the recurring updates that are so much a part of long-term and thus episodic fieldwork. Updating suggests participation, positionality, and transformation-as well as play and familiarity. The presumption of familiarity, which is at the heart of sociability, becomes a tool for exploring time and new social experiences and the ways in which chronology is interwoven with shifting social positions.
This article responds to Michael Herzfeld's call for anthropologists to develop a new form of 'reflexive comparison' by imaginatively casting the peoples of the African Great Lakes as part of Melanesia. Specifically, it explores how notions of personhood and sociality in this African setting might be understood through interpretative approaches developed in the New Melanesian Ethnography of the 1970s and 1980s. It finds that this sort of thought experiment yields key insights by focusing analytical attention upon concepts of shared vital substances, upon practices intended to control the flow of these substances, and upon the agency of non-human actors (especially cattle) in shaping these processes. An examination of these features suggests new perspectives on a range of ethnographic 'problems', from condom use to Rwanda's ubuhake cattle exchange.
Personhood and Cognitive Disability in Urban Uganda
Noah Lutalo, a man in his twenties, is teaching me how to plant corn on the dusty outskirts of Kampala, Uganda’s capital and largest city. Noah disapproves of my ineptitude with the iron hoe he has given me, and takes the opportunity to