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Performing the Legacy of War in Uganda


This Dissertation explores the interaction of performance and warfare in the framework of colonial and post-colonial times. The issues in question unfold in relationship with political history, but are in fact bound by Ugandan playwriting, theatre, and performance practices, with a focus on 1962-2010. Although a number of dramatists draw from the colonial encounter for present day cultural expression, syncretism is at the heart of self-definition in post-colonial Ugandan society. The thesis examines the works of a range of home-bred, as well as Diaspora Ugandan dramatists such as Sam Okello, Kenneth Kimuli, Okot p’Bitek, Byron Kawadwa, John Ruganda, George Seremba, Rose Mbowa, Alex Mukulu, and Ntare Mwine to argue that since Independence from British rule, Uganda has been hostage to a legacy of war – a post-colonial nation spiraling in a state of ruthless power contestations, with violence of various degrees. Inevitably, the history informs many of the plays and the plays become a part of the history. The dramatic works studied embody the hard realities as well as subjunctive version of post-colonial Ugandan cultural and political aspirations. Theoretical projects of African as well as European/Western thinking inform the story, but ultimately it focuses on Ugandan society: 1962-2010. The narrative and analysis of content found in this dissertation represents my rendezvous with Ugandan performance vis a vis the legacy of war. The narrative will explore how performance articulates war and warfare engages with performance on a historical, political and cultural scale. The “emic” and “etic” strands of thought guide the analysis; the former refers to insider and the latter outsider information/response/action/ reaction. Most of the plays are “emic” and a fair amount of the theory is “etic.” Each chapter represents a different time-frame in Ugandan political history, in terms of (the ever shifting) paradigms of playwriting, theatre, and performance.<br/>
Thesis (Ph.D. -- Brown University (2012)

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Mulekwa, Charles, "Performing the Legacy of War in Uganda" (2012). Theatre Arts and Performance Studies Theses and Dissertations. Brown Digital Repository. Brown University Library.