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 andthe state in north eastern Uganda, probing why after many years of trying to settle theproblems of cattle raiding, armed violence and disorder still pervade the area. Thestudy argues that while resource conflicts and violence between different groups arenot strange in this region, the new dimensions and intensity brought in new actors andmore innovative processes. A situation that has been created leaves the bulk of thepopulation vulnerable to rampant armed violence and has become the order ofeveryday life. A number of factors are held responsible for this upsurge of violenceand continued vulnerability of the largely agro-pastoral communities, they include:cattle raiding, decades of political marginalization, pastoralists’ cultural andeconomic 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 ofboth natural and human-induced disasters competing for the scarce resources, buttheir resolve to keep up their pastoral lifestyle while taking advantage of the historicaland dramatic events like the political turbulence in the region as well as the suddenrise 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 livingamidst extremes of gun related violence and a horrific humanitarian environment.Due to their continued involvement with modern weapons, the attention of the stateand 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 theregion. But instead of ridding the region of violence, such interventions haveintensified 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 isembedded in the many wide-ranging processes that furnish aspects of violence. In the type of situation presented here, different notions of violence begin to emergedepending on the cultural, historical, and political moments regarding pastoral waysof life, acquisition of arms and use of armed violence. Thus, in as much as conflictand violence between different groups were not strange in this region, the newdimensions and character require deep exploration. This study focused on the criticaljunction at which the different historical, cultural and, both local and large-scaleprocesses converge in understanding why and how violence has characterized therelations between the state and the society.
PublisherThe University of Bergen
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