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Mind the Gap! Seeking Stability Beyond the ‘Tribal’ Threshold in Late-Colonial Uganda. The Role of Urban Housing Policy, 1945-1960.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Human Geography.
2009 (English)In: African Studies, ISSN 0002-0184, E-ISSN 1469-2872, Vol. 68, no 3, 429-464 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]


The momentum towards a ‘developmentalist’ paradigm of colonial rule in the post-WWII Uganda Protectorate elevated the ‘Native Question’ to a new critical level. The twin imperatives of welfare and industrialisation threatened to make the ‘tribal’ categories that had erstwhile been used to ‘locate’ colonial subjects untenable and to force a crossing of the detribalisation threshold. In the context of African urban housing policy and housing provision during the period 1945-1960, the author deploys Foucault’s notions of sovereign, anatomo- and bio-power to examine the changing modalities of power deployed by the colonial state in managing a controlled transition across the tribal threshold. From sovereign technologies of power in the pre-WWII era designed to extract labour power from Africans while conserving their tribal loyalty; thence to the introduction of technologies to regenerate the still tribal African body (1945-1953); then to technologies designed to cross the tribal threshold and norm and form ‘loyal’ modern subjects (1954-1960). The article investigates and argues for the vital but always evolving role of public African urban housing both as instructional spaces for these power investments and also as spatial ‘sorting devices’ or relay points in a wider architecture for canalising movement, separating populations, and guiding loyalties. A detailed case study of Walukuba African Housing Estate in Jinja Town is used to ground this analysis as well as to examine the ‘limits’ to colonial technologies of power.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Taylor and Francis , 2009. Vol. 68, no 3, 429-464 p.
Keyword [en]
Uganda, Foucault, Power, Colonial Housing, Detribalisation, Housing Estate
National Category
Social and Economic Geography
Research subject
Human Geography
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-30130DOI: 10.1080/00020180903381214ISI: 000273757400008OAI: diva2:241813
Available from: 2009-10-05 Created: 2009-10-05 Last updated: 2012-02-01Bibliographically approved

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