Locating Neocolonialism, ‘Tradition’ and Human Rights in Uganda’s ‘Gay Death Penalty’

Seminar date: 
09 June 2011
15.30 - 17.00u
Pieter de la Courtgebouw / Faculty of Social Sciences, Wassenaarseweg 52, 2333 AK Leiden
Seminar room: 
3A06 (third floor)

The Anti-Homosexuality Bill introduced in Uganda’s Parliament in 2009 sparked a moral panic of violent homophobia across Africa. Despite a well-documented history of sexual diversity, claims that homosexuality is ‘un-African’ are being used to justify such violence and exclusion. This seminar will delve into various cultural logics that reveal the tensions and contradictions in Ugandans’ widespread opposition to homosexuality. I argue that US evangelical influences, postcolonial amnesia of ‘tradition’, fertility concerns and human rights exceptionalism are driving this moral panic and must be answered by confronting neocolonial religious influence and cultivating renewed respect for human rights and Africa’s history of sexual diversity.

Kristen Cheney has been doing fieldwork in Uganda since 1993. In 2004, she won the ASA Graduate Student Paper Prize. She is co-convener/advisory board chair for the Anthropology of Children and Childhood Interest Group of the American Anthropological Association. Her research focuses on children’s survival strategies amidst difficult circumstances in Eastern and Southern Africa. As a 2008-9 Fulbright Africa Regional Research Scholar, she conducted ethnographic research with orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) in Uganda. She is the author of Pillars of the Nation: Child Citizens and Ugandan National Development (2007, University of Chicago Press).

Paper: Locating Neocolonialism, ‘Tradition’, and Human Rights in Uganda’s ‘Gay Death Penalty’ (doc, 270KB) by Dr. Kristen Cheney
(This paper is still in review and should not be cited or quoted without permission.)