In recent debates between social scientists and human rights and legal scholars, many anthropologists have argued that the successes or failures of transitional justice mechanisms to contribute to peace depend on a wide range of contextually situated historical, political, socio-economic, and cultural factors (see Hinton 2010). Human rights organizations often disregard or sideline such contextual specifics and favor a narrow definition of justice in terms of the unwavering punitive orthodoxy of international courts as the primary solution to conflict. Looking through an anthropological lens in this paper, I focus on the history of politics in post-colonial Uganda in order to render clearer the cycle of violence that emerged as a prominent feature of the political landscape of the region. Against this contextualized backdrop, I investigate the case of conflict between the Ugandan state and the Lord’s Resistance Army, and problematize the role of one international human rights organization, the International Criminal Court. I argue that by continuing its intervention in Uganda’s justice matters, the ICC is inadvertently granting the same kind of amnesty to past atrocities that it so condemns for present ones, and in doing so, grants international legitimacy to the current state while de-legitimizing non-state local forms of justice. Although ethnographic “field notes” are not included in the following pages, this essay represents one anthropologist’s analytical engagement with issues of justice in Uganda.
Ebling, Todd Jonathan
"History, Violence, and Legitimacy in Uganda: An Anthropological Analysis of Post-Colonial Politics and ICC Intervention,"
Field Notes: A Journal of Collegiate Anthropology: Vol. 7
, Article 3.
Available at: https://dc.uwm.edu/fieldnotes/vol7/iss1/3