"Sometime you may leave your husband in Karuma Falls or in the forest there": A gendered history of disappearance in Idi Amin's Uganda, 1971-79

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Abstract

During Idi Amin's eight-year military dictatorship, agents of the state abducted and "disappeared" countless Ugandan citizens, as well as foreign nationals. Although most of the disappeared were men, disappearance was not simply a masculine phenomenon. This disturbing pattern of violence also had a profound impact on women and their children. In an effort to more fully engender the history of disappearance in Uganda, this article critically examines the narratives of women who testified before a 1974 Commission of Inquiry that was investigating a spate of recent disappearances in the country. More than just a tragic litany of devastation and loss, these testimonies reveal important details about the workings of Amin's security apparatus. Most significantly, they confirm that the military regime's use of violence was far more calculated and strategic than previously imagined. Disappearance was not simply an unfortunate consequence of military rule, but instead, a deliberate ruling strategy that was designed to spread fear and stifle opposition. These narratives also provide valuable information about the lives of women during this difficult period, a subject that remains woefully neglected in both scholarly and popular literature.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)125-142
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Eastern African Studies
Volume7
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Anthropology
  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Political Science and International Relations

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