Land Rights Activism and the Struggle for Power in Uganda (Gauthier SCHEFER)

This paper is about politics in Western Uganda and the multiple ways it relates to organizations of activists working on human rights issues. It draws examples from a local organization dealing with illegal expropriations of land in the region. As land grabbing is pervading in Uganda, land rights defenders deal with actors from a large sociological spectrum, from poor farmers to top-level politicians. Advocating human rights against land grabbing entices exposure and risks.

I aim to demonstrate that the conditions for activism on land grabbing in a context cast as “hybrid authoritarian” imply specific measures and strategies designed to master constraints. On the long run, shielding against these constraints is shaping activist organizations into public-sector-like “institutions”. Organisations are therefore found at the intersection of the public and the private, or the profit and non-profit sectors. Paradoxically, the threat that organisations actually face is minimal, but it constitutes, nevertheless, the foundation of their credibility and legitimacy as “community-based organizations” in the eyes of Western donors, and a key narrative for their communication.

Gauthier Schefer, ”Land Rights Activism and The Struggle for Power: Overlapping of The Non-Profit Sector and The Political Sphere in Uganda,” Mambo!, Vol. XVI, (2), 2019.

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