In 2019, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation gave the College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHUSS) a grant worth 800,000 US dollars to carry out research on the history of humanities and humanistic social sciences at Makerere University. The College-wide research project titled: Historicizing the Humanities at Makerere University Since 1922 (Humanities@Mak100) contends that despite the rich history, no attempts have been made to critically historicize and interrogate the past and current positionality of the disciplines of humanities and humanistic social sciences at Makerere University.
The project therefore seeks to rethink the research and scholarship enterprise of the humanities and humanistic social sciences at Makerere University. Members of staff engaged in the project are expected to reflect critically on the current role and significance of these disciplines in society in order to shape their future trends in Uganda and East Africa.
In this regard, members of staff in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology have embarked on a project to historicize the discipline of Social Anthropology. The project is led by Prof. Peter Atekyereza, Head Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Dr Anthony Mugeere and Dr Stevens Aguto Odongoh.
On 28th February 2020, the Department convened a meeting of current and former members of staff to reflect on the peaks and troughs of social anthropology at Makerere University. The meeting held at Grand Global Hotel in Kampala was chaired by Prof. Peter Atekyereza, and was attended by former Heads of Department namely Dr Kibuuka, Dr Rebecca Nyonyintono and Mrs. Kisamba Mugerwa. Despite its tainted colonial past, social anthropology has over the years been decolonized to serve the African need both theoretically and methodologically. It’s against this background that the researchers through this project will demonstrate the relevance of social anthropology in the contemporary world. As a discipline, social anthropology can help in the understanding of human culture which is crucial in the development process.
Sharing his experience, Dr Kibuuka said there was need to repackage the discipline of social anthropology in a more relevant and appealing format. “For the discipline of Social Anthropology to thrive in this era where sciences are emphasized over the humanities and social sciences, we need to critically reflect on ways of packaging it better and making it more relevant to the learners and the national development goals,” he advised. He urged former members of staff to continue supporting and contributing to the development of the department. In her remarks, Dr Nyonyintono appealed to academics to be mindful of quality in scholarship. She called for the revival of high level seminars and public lectures that characterized Makerere in the past years. “These programmes were very enriching and fostered an admiration for expertise and quality,” she noted.
Mrs. Kisamba Mugerwa implored staff to undertake research that speaks to issues affecting human life.
Reunion and recognition of former members of staff
Besides the deliberations on the discipline of social anthropology, the meeting served as a platform for reuniting staff and reflecting on the general changes and issues affecting the development of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology. It also presented an opportunity for participants to share professional interests and to network for research, external examination and placement. During the meeting, participants recognized the invaluable contributions of former members of staff including Dr Kibuuka, Dr Rebecca Nyonyintono, Mrs. Kisamba Mugerwa, Prof. Edward K. Kirumira, Ernest Wabwirwe (RIP), Expedit Ddungu (RIP), Gabriel Jagwe Wadda (RIP), Robert Mugisha (RIP), Sarah Ssebyatika (RIP) and Prof. Tibamanya Mwene Mushanga (RIP).
See pictorial of the workshop below.