College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences Theses and Dissertations

Graduation Date

9-2014

Document Type

Thesis

College/Department Conferring Degree

International Studies

Keywords

northern Uganda, documentation, memorialization, humanitarianism, peace and conflict

Abstract

This thesis considers how documentation and memorialization initiatives curate historical narratives in contemporary northern Uganda since the collapse of the Juba peace talks in 2008. Taking the collapse of political settlement as my starting point while staying attuned to the history of humanitarian activity in the region more broadly, I address how each of these initiatives produces knowledge about the war between the Government of Uganda and the Lord’s Resistance Army and its aftermath despite the lack of a formal resolution or cessation of hostilities. Based on ethnographic fieldwork conducted annually between 2009 and 2014, I argue that sites of memory do not simply recall the past, but instead produce new meanings about that past as a response to present anxieties. They challenge, sustain, or mollify already-circulating meanings in order to produce new ways of thinking about the future of a conflict that is not yet past. Taken together, sites of memory map the availability of political claims in a time of political uncertainty. The construction of the archive in northern Uganda operates within a larger discourse of peace-after-war, an expectation that after war comes a more productive, participatory future characterized by peace. Juxtaposing the lived experiences of Acholi men and women against the expectation that documenting these experiences will bring lasting peace to the region provokes new questions about the contingencies of documentary practices and the indeterminacy of their subsequent uses.

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