An innovative contemporary history that blends insights from a variety of disciplines to highlight how a storied African cancer institute has shaped lives and identities in postcolonial Uganda.
Over the past decade, an increasingly visible crisis of cancer in Uganda has made local and international headlines. Based on transcontinental research and public engagement with the Uganda Cancer Institute that began in 2010, Africanizing Oncology frames the cancer hospital as a microcosm of the Ugandan state, as a space where one can trace the lived experiences of Ugandans in the twentieth century. Ongoing ethnographic fieldwork, patient records, oral histories, private papers from US oncologists, American National Cancer Institute records, British colonial office reports, and even the architecture of the institute itself show how Ugandans understood and continue to shape ideas about national identity, political violence, epidemics, and economic life.
Africanizing Oncology describes the political, social, technological, and biomedical dimensions of how Ugandans created, sustained, and transformed this institute over the past half century. With insights from science and technology studies and contemporary African history, Marissa Mika’s work joins a new wave of contemporary histories of the political, technological, moral, and intellectual aspirations and actions of Africans after independence. It contributes to a growing body of work on chronic disease and situates the contemporary urgency of the mounting cancer crisis on the continent in a longer history of global cancer research and care. With its creative integration of African studies, science and technology studies, and medical anthropology, Africanizing Oncology speaks to multiple scholarly communities.
In August 1986, Alice Auma, a young Acholi woman in northern Uganda, proclaiming herself under the orders of a Christian spirit named Lakwena, raised an army called the “Holy Spirit Mobile Forces.” With it she waged a war against perceived evil, not only an external enemy represented by the National Resistance Army of the government, but internal enemies in the form of “impure” soldiers, witches, and sorcerers. She came very close to her goal of overthrowing the government but was defeated and fled to Kenya.
This book provides a unique view of Alice’s movement, based on interviews with its members and including their own writings, examining their perceptions of the threat of external and internal evil. It concludes with an account of the successor movements into which Alice’s forces fragmented and which still are active in the civil wars of the Sudan and Uganda.
Yoweri Museveni battled to power in 1986. His government has impressed many observers as Uganda’s most innovative since it gained independence from Britain in 1962. The Economist recommended it as a model for other African states struggling to develop their resources in the best interests of their peoples.
But where was change to start? At the bottom in building resistance committees, or at the top in tough negotiations with the IMF? How was it to continue? Was it in the restructuring of the national army, in increasing respect for human rights, in the reform of education, in tackling AIDS, or in getting Ugandans to speak a common language? Was it in building more viable survival strategies for the poorest Ugandans or in restructuring the national constitution? The last five years have shown a radical approach to Uganda’s dilemmas.
Holger Bernt Hansen and Michael Twaddle previously edited Uganda Now. It was brought together at a significant moment just as President Museveni was gaining power in 1985-6. It was so much in demand that it even entered the magendo market on the streets of Kampala. The book, which is still in print, was described by The Canadian Journal of African Studies as ‘virtually a mini-encyclopedia of Uganda’ and by The African Studies Review as ‘the best overview of Uganda’s trauma in the last two decades.’
The editors have assembled another team of Ugandan and international scholars to review the dilemmas of introducing revolutionary changes in an African country deeply affected by structural adjustment plans which have been imposed from outside.
Controlling Anger examines the dilemmas facing rural people who live within the broader context of political instability. Following Uganda’s independence from Britain in 1962, the Bagisu men of Southeastern Uganda developed a reputation for extreme violence.
Drawing on a wide range of historical sources including local court records, statistical survey analysis, and intensive fieldwork, Suzette Heald portrays and analyzes the civil violence that grew out of intense land shortage, the marginalization of the Gisu under British rule, and the construction of male gender identity among the Gisu. Now available in a paperback edition with a new preface by the author, Controlling Anger is an important contribution to rural sociology in Africa.
Abducted at the age of eleven, Evelyn Amony spent nearly eleven years inside the Lord’s Resistance Army, becoming a forced wife to Joseph Kony and mother to his children. She takes the reader into the inner circles of LRA commanders and reveals unprecedented personal and domestic details about Joseph Kony. Her account unflinchingly conveys the moral difficulties of choosing survival in a situation fraught with violence, threat, and death.
Amony was freed following her capture by the Ugandan military. Despite the trauma she endured with the LRA, Amony joined a Ugandan peace delegation to the LRA, trying to convince Kony to end the war that had lasted more than two decades. She recounts those experiences, as well as the stigma she and her children faced when she returned home as an adult.
This extraordinary testimony shatters stereotypes of war-affected women, revealing the complex ways that Amony navigated life inside the LRA and her current work as a human rights advocate to make a better life for her children and other women affected by war.
Best books for public & secondary school libraries from university presses, American Library Association
Finalist for the 2015 Aidoo-Snyder Prize
In Idi Amin’s Shadow is a rich social history examining Ugandan women’s complex and sometimes paradoxical relationship to Amin’s military state. Based on more than one hundred interviews with women who survived the regime, as well as a wide range of primary sources, this book reveals how the violence of Amin’s militarism resulted in both opportunities and challenges for women. Some assumed positions of political power or became successful entrepreneurs, while others endured sexual assault or experienced the trauma of watching their brothers, husbands, or sons “disappeared” by the state’s security forces. In Idi Amin’s Shadow considers the crucial ways that gender informed and was informed by the ideology and practice of militarism in this period. By exploring this relationship, Alicia C. Decker offers a nuanced interpretation of Amin’s Uganda and the lives of the women who experienced and survived its violence.
Each chapter begins with the story of one woman whose experience illuminates some larger theme of the book. In this way, it becomes clear that the politics of military rule were highly relevant to women and gender relations, just as the politics of gender were central to militarism. By drawing upon critical security studies, feminist studies, and violence studies, Decker demonstrates that Amin’s dictatorship was far more complex and his rule much more strategic than most observers have ever imagined.
This is a history of the early days of Uganda. The account has an African focus because it shows the British takeover through the experiences of an extraordinary leader.
“At this spot in the year 1901 the British flag was first hoisted by Semei Kakanguru, emissary and loyal servant of His Majesty the King. He built here a boma which was for a short time the headquarters of the district. From this beginning came the establishment of peace and the development of orderly progress in this part of Uganda.”
Michael Twaddle was shown this plaque in 1963 by a local government official who said “That man created the Uganda we Ugandans are fighting for today.” And yet the local people had had the plaque removed to a bicycle shed.
How do people regard an African who had an active role in the creation of the imperial state? Was this man “a hero,” “a collaborator,” “a warlord”? The reaction of colonial officials was mixed. One considered him “…in point of general intelligence, progressive ideas and charm of manner…far above all other natives in the Protectorate…” Another dismissed him, along with his companions, as “no better than Masai or Nandi cattle lifters.” And yet another viewed him as “undoubtedly…a partial religious maniac.”
The story of this man is an example of the dilemma for a whole generation of East Africans at the turn of the last century. This book has been compared in its importance to Shepperson’s and Price’s Independent African.
Comprehensive and vivid with eyewitness detail, Kusamira Music in Uganda offers insight into important healing traditions and the overlaps between expressive culture and healing practices, the human and other-than-human, and Uganda's past and future.
Finnström draws on fieldwork conducted in northern Uganda between 1997 and 2006 to describe how the Acholi—especially the younger generation, those born into the era of civil strife—understand and attempt to control their moral universe and material circumstances. Structuring his argument around indigenous metaphors and images, notably the Acholi concepts of good and bad surroundings, he vividly renders struggles in war and the related ills of impoverishment, sickness, and marginalization. In this rich ethnography, Finnström provides a clear-eyed assessment of the historical, cultural, and political underpinnings of the civil war while maintaining his focus on Acholi efforts to achieve “good surroundings,” viable futures for themselves and their families.
How can children simultaneously be the most important and least powerful people in a nation? In her innovative ethnography of Ugandan children—the pillars of tomorrow’s Uganda, according to the national youth anthem—Kristen E. Cheney answers this question by exploring the daily contradictions children face as they try to find their places amid the country’s rapidly changing social conditions.
Drawing on the detailed life histories of several children, Cheney shows that children and childhood are being redefined by the desires of a young country struggling to position itself in the international community. She moves between urban schools, music festivals, and war zones to reveal how Ugandans are constructing childhood as an empowering identity for the development of the nation. Moreover, through her analysis of children’s rights ideology, national government strategy, and children’s everyday concerns, Cheney also shows how these young citizens are vitally linked to the global political economy as they navigate the pitfalls and possibilities for a brighter tomorrow.
Blessed with fertile and well-watered soil, East Africa’s kingdom of Buganda supported a relatively dense population and became a major regional power by the mid-nineteenth century. This complex and fascinating state has also long been in need of a thorough study that cuts through the image of autocracy and military might.
Political Power in Pre-Colonial Buganda explores the material basis of Ganda political power, gives us a new understanding of what Ganda power meant in real terms, and relates the story of how the kingdom used the resources at its disposal to meet the challenges that confronted it. Reid further explains how these same challenges ultimately limited Buganda’s dominance of the East African great lakes region.
Preaching Prevention examines the controversial U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) initiative to “abstain and be faithful” as a primary prevention strategy in Africa. This ethnography of the born-again Christians who led the new anti-AIDS push in Uganda provides insight into both what it means for foreign governments to “export” approaches to care and treatment and the ways communities respond to and repurpose such projects. By examining born-again Christians’ support of Uganda’s controversial 2009 Anti-Homosexuality Bill, the book’s final chapter explores the enduring tensions surrounding the message of personal accountability heralded by U.S. policy makers.
Preaching Prevention is the first to examine the cultural reception of PEPFAR in Africa. Lydia Boyd asks, What are the consequences when individual responsibility and autonomy are valorized in public health initiatives and those values are at odds with the existing cultural context? Her book investigates the cultures of the U.S. and Ugandan evangelical communities and how the flow of U.S.-directed monies influenced Ugandan discourses about sexuality and personal agency. It is a pioneering examination of a global health policy whose legacies are still unfolding.
More than ten million children suffer from severe acute malnutrition globally each year. In Uganda, longstanding efforts to understand, treat, and then prevent the condition initially served to medicalize it, in the eyes of both biomedical personnel and Ugandans who brought their children to the hospital for treatment and care. Medicalization meant malnutrition came to be seen as a disease—as a medical emergency—not a preventable condition, further compromising nutritional health in Uganda.
Rather than rely on a foreign-led model, physicians in Uganda responded to this failure by developing a novel public health program known as Mwanamugimu. The new approach prioritized local expertise and empowering Ugandan women, blending biomedical knowledge with African sensibilities and cultural competencies.
In The Riddle of Malnutrition, Jennifer Tappan examines how over the course of half a century Mwanamugimu tackled the most fatal form of childhood malnutrition—kwashiorkor—and promoted nutritional health in the midst of postcolonial violence, political upheaval, and neoliberal resource constraints. She draws on a diverse array of sources to illuminate the interplay between colonialism, the production of scientific knowledge, and the delivery of health services in contemporary Africa.
For the first decade of the twenty-first century, every weekend, people throughout Uganda converged to participate in ebimeeza, open debates that invited common citizens to share their political and social views. These debates, also called “People’s Parliaments,” were broadcast live on private radio stations until the government banned them in 2009. In Talkative Polity, Florence Brisset-Foucault offers the first major study of ebimeeza, which complicate our understandings of political speech in restrictive contexts and force us to move away from the simplistic binary of an authoritarian state and a liberal civil society.
Brisset-Foucault conducted fieldwork from 2005 to 2013, primarily in Kampala, interviewing some 150 orators, spectators, politicians, state officials, journalists, and NGO staff. The resulting ethnography invigorates the study of political domination and documents a short-lived but highly original sphere of political expression. Brisset-Foucault thus does justice to the richness and depth of Uganda’s complex political and radio culture as well as to the story of ambitious young people who didn’t want to behave the way the state expected them to. Positioned at the intersection of media studies and political science, Talkative Polity will help us all rethink the way in which public life works.
“All my work fits in my mouth,” Jo Carson says. “I write performance material no matter what else the pieces get called, and whether they are for my voice or other characters’ voices … they are first to be spoken aloud.” Following an oral tradition that has strong roots in her native Tennessee, the author of Teller Tales invites the reader to participate in events in a way that no conventional history book can.
Both stories in this book are set in East Tennessee in the mid-eighteenth century and share certain characters. The first narrative, “What Sweet Lips Can Do,” recounts the story of the Overmountain Men and the battle of King’s Mountain, a tide-turning battle in the American Revolution. “Men of Their Time” is an exploration of white-Cherokee relationships from early contact through the time of the Revolution.
Although not well known to the outside world, the stories recounted in Teller Tales are cornerstones in the heritage of the Appalachian region and of American history. In ways that will appeal to young and old alike, Jo Carson’s irreverent telling will broaden the audience and the understanding for the stories of native Americans, settlers, explorers, and revolutionaries of early America.
Can the revolutionary government of Yoweri Museveni’s National Resistance Movement put Uganda back on the road from decay to development?
These informed assessments put the present situation in context. The contributors assembled as Museveni’s guerrillas were launching their final bid for power. They have finalized their contributions in the light of the Museveni government’s initial period of power.
Contributions by Ugandan academics and politicians interlock with those by scholars from across the world who have a concern for Uganda. Historians examine the period of colonialism. There are political studies of the quarter century since independence. There are detailed analyses of the economic realities for the Ugandan government in the period of international debt. The central role of education in national development is given due prominence.
Ali A. Mazrui ends the book by asking ‘Is Africa Decaying?’ The editors have put the consideration of the case of Uganda’s recent history within the context of Africa’s development crisis. Uganda has presented in an aggravated form the crisis common to many other African countries: infrastructural breakdown, mounting foreign debt, military regimes and waves of refugees.
This seminal work chronicles George B. Schaller’s two years of travel and observation of gorillas in East and Central Africa in the late 1950s, high in the Virunga volcanoes on the Zaire-Rwanda-Uganda border. There, he learned that these majestic animals, far from being the aggressive apes of film and fiction, form close-knit societies of caring mothers and protective fathers watching over playful young. Alongside his observations of gorilla society, Schaller celebrates the enforced yet splendid solitude of the naturalist, recounts the adventures he experienced along the way, and offers a warning against poaching and other human threats against these endangered creatures. This edition features a postscript detailing Schaller’s more recent visits with gorillas, current to 2009.
“Whether the author is tracking gorillas, slipping past elephant herds on narrow jungle paths, avoiding poachers’ deadfalls, or routing Watusi invaders, this is an exciting book. Although Schaller feels that this is ‘not an adventure book,’ few readers will be able to agree.”—Irven DeVore, Science
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