Society against state or state against society? the unfolding of violence in contemporary Uganda's Rwenzori region
Tshimba, David Ngendo
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Addressing violence has remained a salient challenge worldwide. Yet, what is even more challenging has been the possibility of gaining a fuller understanding of how violence, especially when on a large scale, unfolds in specific places as well as the ways in which its aftermath (re)shapes state society relations. This article takes the case of the mass violence of 05 July 2014 in Uganda’s Rwenzori as an entry point for a critical-historical engagement with the state’s organising power of society in the Rwenzori region under the National Resistance Movement (NRM) rule. The main argument of this article, informed by an ancillary ethnographic fieldwork carried out between July and September 2017, runs counter to the narrative of vulnerability and marginality of Rwenzori borderlanders—a narrative much vaunted in most of contemporary Africanist scholarship on the region. In its final analysis, the article maintains that the anti-state character manifested in the unfolding of the July 2014 attacks can best be understood as an ongoing querying, on the part of society, of the state’s organising power. Evidently, this querying reached a cataclysmal level when the state under the NRM rule moved to refashion differently society in the Rwenzori region following the official recognition of the cultural institution of Obusinga Bwa Rwenzururu.