The effects of violent conflict and displacement on citizen engagement: a case study from Northern Uganda
Oosterom, Marjoke Anika
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This thesis aims to contribute to an understanding of how citizenship is constructed, sensed and practiced by people who have experienced violent conflict and displacement. In the Acholi region of Uganda, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) created large-scale insecurity and mass-displacement between the late 1980s until the region returned to stability in 2006. In this thesis I compare two conflict-affected locations in the Acholi region with one non-affected location in Lango region. The overall proposition of this study is that the experience of protracted conflict and displacement leads to a lack of a sense of citizenship and to diminished forms of citizen engagement, due to the limited opportunity for learning and experiencing the practice of citizenship. I used qualitative research methods during ten months of fieldwork in 2010. For an analysis of people’s sense of citizenship, I studied how people perceive and feel themselves to be members of the wider political community; as members of the Acholi tribe and as citizens of Uganda. For the analysis of the practice of citizenship I studied various forms of citizen engagement: with local authorities, in community institutions, for development and for accountability purposes. Numerous challenges to citizen participation exist across Uganda. These include a lack of knowledge about the system and lack of self-confidence, barriers associated with the micropolitics of participation, and democratic deficits of the overall political system. However, underlying reasons for non-participation can vary. In Acholi, some of these reasons are attributable to people’s experiences during the war. I conclude that protracted conflict diminishes a sense of citizenship and radically changes the social environment in which active citizenship is learnt, through the narrowing and securitisation of institutions and the public sphere. The sense and practice that exist in the post-conflict situation are therefore characterised by certain ideas, perceptions, emotions and behaviours that were developed during the conflict.
CitationOosterom, Marjoke Anika (2014) The effects of violent conflict and displacement on citizen engagement: a case study from Northern Uganda. Doctoral thesis, Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex.
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