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Pastoral politics in the northeast periphery in Uganda: AK-47 as change agent

  • Mustafa Mirzeler (a1) and Crawford Young (a2)


Our aim in this article is to contribute to understanding the effects of firearms on the relationship between the state and pastoral communities in contemporary northeast Uganda. The Karamoja region has from early colonial times been a peripheral zone. Although successive post-colonial regimes have made episodic efforts to incorporate this zone more fully into Ugandan national space, relations between Karamoja and the centre remain distant and distrustful. The transformation of local modes of conflict by large-scale infusion of the AK-47 has had far-reaching effects both on relationships with the Ugandan state and its local representatives, and within Karamoja societies. The younger men who possess these weapons elude the authority of the elders, and entertain ambiguous relations with the state authorities, whom they may serve as auxiliaries or resist.



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