På uvis grund. Intime konflikter over jord og tilhørsforhold i det nordlige Uganda.

Publikation: Ph.d. afhandling/ kandidat/ diplomPh.d. afhandlingForskningpeer review


Abstract (English)
In this Ph.D. thesis, I examine the existential uncertainties generated when people’s access to the land that supports their life - socially, economically, and culturally - is challenged by somebody close to them. Based on ethnographic fieldwork in the Acholi sub-region, northern Uganda, I explore how land wrangles among neighbors and close relatives play out in everyday life and institutional settings. By approaching the challenge of land conflicts through a practice-oriented perspective, emphasizing the actions and experiences of those whose land access is threatened, I draw out two tendencies, which add new nuances to research on land conflicts in African settings.
Firstly, despite being characterized by institutional multiplicity, I argue that authorities in this context often display institutional reticence by disowning local land wrangles and declaring them private matters to be dealt with at home. This phenomenon is under-explored in recent studies of land conflicts in similar settings where focus has been devoted to institutional competition, ‘forum shopping’, legal pluralism, and similar concepts, which center their attention on the role of institutions. My study addresses this gap by exploring land wrangles beyond the institutional spheres. I show how wrangles live on in everyday life in both subtle and abrupt ways, and how people strive to manage them. An important point is that institutional reticence does not imply any final absence of institutions. Institutional interference is a constant potential, however rarely actualized, which generates a sense of unpredictability and confusion among people when interacting with these institutions.
Secondly, I argue that processes of commodification and individualization of land are connected to local land wrangles. Scholarly work mainly connects these processes to ‘land grabs’ and pressures by powerful elites, be they local, national, or international. I show how an intimidating neighbor with whom one wrangles over land can render the land in question dangerous and uninhabitable. Therefore, to sell it becomes a relevant alternative to pursuing a land claim. Not because of an ideological desire to adapt to freehold tenure, but as a pragmatic response to a situation where one risks losing out on the valuable land all together. Thus, common people also spur processes of land commodification.
Throughout the thesis, drawings from my notebooks supplement my writings in an effort to describe fieldwork interactions, to emphasize analytical points, and give the reader a sense of fieldwork atmospheres and moods. I find drawings useful in ethnographic work for several reasons: during fieldwork, drawing offered me a playful way of making discoveries, telling stories, and staying self-reflective about my work. Weaved into text, their analogue lines serve as reminders of the partial perspective ethnographic knowledge rests on. Drawings point away from realist, objective descriptions to subjective, simplified, and humoristic depictions, and they do not only reflect what is drawn but also the drawer’s perspective. This makes drawings a relevant yet underexplored mode of communicating ethnography.
Bidragets oversatte titelPå uvis grund.: Intime konflikter over jord og tilhørsforhold i det nordlige Uganda.
StatusIkke-udgivet - 2018
Udgivet eksterntJa