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Return or Remain Project

This study explored the conditions facing the formerly internally displaced population in Awach, and the effects these have on their options of settlement after the closing of the camps. The study found that some people remain behind, unable to re-place themselves in the ideal patterns of Acholi belonging to homes and land.

The study underscored the point that the problem of displacement and re-placement is one of social relationships. For many women, socially mediated access to land has been weakened by the death of husbands and parents and by the failure to formalize partnerships and children’s affiliation during the years of violence and displacement.

Relocation depends upon articulation of kinship and marriage bonds; many of those remaining behind in the decommissioned camps were not only dislocated but also disarticulated, often through the deployment of ‘fundamentalist’ patrilineal ideology. The exhumation of family members who had been buried in the IDP camp and their reburial on family land were considered important for human security in the future.

The development of a Town board at the site of the former IDP camp - a new form of urbanisation - is partly accomplished by sending people, including the deceased, away to the rural areas.

Disciplines and researchers involved

The research team was multi-disciplinary bringing together Danish and GU researchers (Babiiha Sulaiman and Mukyala B. M. Rebecca from Faculty of Business and Development at GU, Susan Reynolds Whyte from Department of Anthropology, KU, and Lotte Meinert from Department of Society and Culture, at AU).

Publication and dissemination:

SR Whyte, S Babiiha, R Mukyala, L Meinert. Remaining Internally Displaced: Missing Links to Human Security in Northern Uganda. Submitted to Journal of Refugee Studies.

L Meinert and SR Whyte. Creating the New Times: Reburials and Bones in Post-conflict Uganda. In Conceptions of Time and Interactions with Death: Social Technologies and Ritual. Christensen & Willerslev (eds.) Ashgate publishing. Accepted 2012.

SR Whyte, R Mukyala, S Babiiha, L Meinert. Urbanization by subtraction: from IDP camp to Town Board in northern Uganda. Presentation at ENRECA Annual Review Meeting 2011 and Mega-seminar, Sandbjerg, Denmark, 2011.

SR Whyte, L Meinert and R Mukyala: Urbanisation by subtraction: from encampment to emplotment in Northern Uganda. Paper accepted for Nordic Africa Days conference in Iceland in October 2012 organized by Nordic Africa Institute. This paper will be developed into an article for submission to Africa Studies Review.

Find more information about the researchers in the Researchers and Assistants menu

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Revised 02.05.2012

The ENRECA-Gulu University is a DANIDA funded project based in the city of Gulu in Northern Uganda.