Pastoralists in Violent Defiance of the State. The case of the Karimojong in Northeastern Uganda
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This thesis explores the issue of persistent violence between pastoralists and the state in north eastern Uganda, probing why after many years of trying to settle the problems of cattle raiding, armed violence and disorder still pervade the area. The study argues that while resource conflicts and violence between different groups are not strange in this region, the new dimensions and intensity brought in new actors and more innovative processes. A situation that has been created leaves the bulk of the population vulnerable to rampant armed violence and has become the order of everyday life. A number of factors are held responsible for this upsurge of violence and continued vulnerability of the largely agro-pastoral communities, they include: cattle raiding, decades of political marginalization, pastoralists’ cultural and economic focus on cattle, environmental change, different development processes, and the ongoing forced disarmament process by the State military forces. The populations have survived for a long time through these combination of both natural and human-induced disasters competing for the scarce resources, but their resolve to keep up their pastoral lifestyle while taking advantage of the historical and dramatic events like the political turbulence in the region as well as the sudden rise in arms smuggling opens up numerous processes that run parallel to each other. Though the situation is not “normal”, the local people continue to eke out a living amidst extremes of gun related violence and a horrific humanitarian environment. Due to their continued involvement with modern weapons, the attention of the state and other global forces like the UN has been drawn into the area to intervene, particularly in disarming the warriors and allay the security threats they pose to the region. But instead of ridding the region of violence, such interventions have intensified the rivalries, introduced new actors and new forms of violence. In reality, while the most visible actors are the state security apparatus and the armed warriors, an array of less visible actors are continuously coming into the context including; politicians, businessmen, warlords, the media, humanitarian agencies, and NGOs. Their participation and indeed contribution towards sustaining the violence is embedded in the many wide-ranging processes that furnish aspects of violence. In the type of situation presented here, different notions of violence begin to emerge depending on the cultural, historical, and political moments regarding pastoral ways of life, acquisition of arms and use of armed violence. Thus, in as much as conflict and violence between different groups were not strange in this region, the new dimensions and character require deep exploration. This study focused on the critical junction at which the different historical, cultural and, both local and large-scale processes converge in understanding why and how violence has characterized the relations between the state and the society.
PublisherThe University of Bergen
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