University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Centre of African Studies Michaelmas Seminars > 'War, displacement, and heritage: a post-conflict material culture in northern Uganda'

'War, displacement, and heritage: a post-conflict material culture in northern Uganda'

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This paper will explore the post-conflict heritage of displacement in northern Uganda and will discuss the relevance of this research for post-conflict development. The perspectives to be presented are drawn from a contemporary-archaeological and materials-focused ethnographic study of a former Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp, Pabbo, in Northern Uganda. The ‘Northern War’ in Uganda, which was largely fought between the Uganda People’s Defence Force and the Lord’s Resistance Army from c. 1986 to 2006, led to the displacement of 1.9 million rural residents, 90% of the northern population, into nearby IDP camps. Since the end of the war, international organisations, including UNHCR , and national government departments have sought to normalise the post-conflict landscape by evacuating the camps, returning people to their pre-conflict ancestral homes, and physically destroying the camps. However, many of the camps, including Pabbo, have since been re-appropriated, re-cycled, and renewed as trading centres and committees have been created to manage and promote the heritage of the IDP camps through museums and memorials. These circumstances present an anomalous situation in which an authorised map of resident relationships with the camp, which was created during the conflict and influenced post-conflict resettlement policy, contrasts with the post-conflict counter map of resident memories and actions. In addition, through stages of war, displacement, and resettlement a new post-conflict material culture can be identified, including settlement patterns, architecture, and objects, as other ‘heritages of displacement’. Thus, this paper reflects on these observations and the potential role of heritage in post-conflict development in ‘rural’ northern Uganda.

This talk is part of the Centre of African Studies Michaelmas Seminars series.

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