CONVO: The Politics of Dead Ancestors
Date(s) - 11/01/2017
Young Hall - Auditorium (Room 113)
The Politics of Dead Ancestors in the Postwar Period: Memory, Public Healing, and Civil War in Eastern Africa
This convocation explores the history and practice of ancestral veneration during Uganda’s Civil War during the 1980s. As Uganda’s central government and dissenting military guerrilla operatives engaged in a six-year conflict, communities in the precolonial Kingdom of Buganda — where the majority of the war unfolded — prayed to and were possessed by their dead ancestors to secure consolation and public healing during a period when the state had largely collapsed and when medical technologies were largely absent. This convocation shows how local communities under military threat and displacement publicly performed and theatrically represented public healing during moments of considerable economic and cultural rupture. The presenter is George Mpanga, who is a current research associate for the University of Virginia’s project on the anthropology of alcoholism and conflict in urban Uganda. His work in the past has included conducting research with, although not limited to, the Universities of Cambridge, Edinburgh, Chicago, and Michigan. His most recent work is featured on the BBC documentary series, Who Do You Think You Are? Mpanga was also the co-director of the Centre-in-Eastern African program for 2014 and 2016.
FREE — OPEN TO THE PUBLIC