VC launches “Uganda: The Dynamics of Neoliberal Transformation” publication

Makerere University has been collaborating with the University of Leeds, UK, on various research projects. The collaboration culminated into the Prof. Nawangwe launched the bookpublication of a book titled: “Uganda: The Dynamics of Neoliberal Transformation" by Zed Publishers in November 2018.

The book was edited by Dr Giuliano Martiniello from the American University of Beirut and Drs Jörg Wiegratz and Elisa Greco from the University of Leeds, UK.  Contributors from Makerere University included Dr Sarah Ssali, an Associate Professor and Dean, School of Women and Gender Studies, Dr Godfrey B. Asiimwe from the Department of Development Studies and Dr Rose Nakayi, a Senior Lecturer  at the School of Law.

Bringing together a range of leading scholars on the country, the book represents a timely debate around the New Uganda, one which confronts the often sanitized and largely depoliticized accounts of the Museveni government and its proponents.

Harnessing a wealth of empirical materials, the contributors offer a critical, multi-displinary analysis of the unprecedented political, socio-economic, cultural and ecological transformations brought about by the neoliberal capitalist restructuring since the 1980s. The result is the most comprehensive collective study to date of a neoliberal market society in contemporary Africa, offering crucial insights for other countries in the Global South.

The book is organized around four thematic sections namely: ‘The state, donors and development aid’; ‘Economic restructuring and social services’; ‘Extractivism and enclosures’; ‘Race, culture and commoditization’.

The first section shows how actors from the international development/aid sector (IFIs etc.) had a major role in advancing market society, by providing substantial financial, ideological, discursive and military resources that kicked off and kept in place neo-liberalisation, providing technical ‘assistance’, Dr Martiniello presented the book at the launchinsisting on certain policies and programmes (and de-campaigning others), and exerting keepon-track pressure on government and other actors when needed.

The next section explains how neoliberal reforms have hardly resolved core socio-economic problems affecting the majority of the population.

In section three of the book, authors critically analyze how the State becomes an important promoter of neoliberal forestry governance, by providing incentives through the UIA and URA to plantation companies with financial and technical capacities required to advance large-scale commercial initiatives. The logic of capital accumulation is supported by prioritising the interests of large-scale users such as agri-business and forestry industrialists over those of smallholders and indigenous populations.

Chapters in section four of the book explore the intersections between class, race and culture, and the ways in which neoliberal transformation contributes to the moulding of the cultural, social and moral norms that shape society.

Book launch

On 15th April 2019, the Vice Chancellor of Makerere University, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe launched the book at a ceremony that was held in the Conference Hall at the School of Women and Gender Studies.

In his address, the Vice Chancellor commended the authors and appreciated CHUSS for its active role in promoting public debate at the University. “At the moment, CHUSS is the most active College as far as public debate is concerned. I implore you to continue in this direction and to increase the Prof. Barya was one of the discussants at the launchnumber of publications so as to restore our glory of the 1960s and 70s when the University was known as the centre for intellectual debate on the African Continent,” he said.

Commenting on the book, one of the reviewers, Prof. John Jean Barya from the School of Law, Makerere University highlighted some of the disastrous consequences of neo-liberalism on Uganda’s economy. “Under liberalization, health and education are no longer services or rights but commodities that must be purchased. Social security has been undermined and economic growth is seen as the main driver at the expense of justice and civil freedoms,” he noted. 

He explained that until the populace organizes to make demands for their rights, the country will remain in the same condition. “Citizens need to rise up to challenge the injustices. This should however be done in an orderly manner to avoid counter-revolution,” he advised.

The other reviewer, Dr Daniel Lumonya from the University of Cornell, USA praised the book as a comprehensive publication but noted that it was important to back the arguments with empirical evidence. He said the book provides an opportunity for engagement with government and development economists to improve policy.

The Acting Principal of CHUSS, Dr Josephine Ahikire applauded the authors for the job well done, noting that the publication was timely in addressing the book famine on African contemporary realities.  

The Dean of the School of Women and Gender Studies, also one of the contributors of articles in the book, Dr Sarah Ssali said the publication was an attempt by people in the humanities and social sciences to contribute to the transformation of the country. Dr Ssali researched about, “Neoliberal health reforms and citizenship in Uganda”.

 The launch ceremony was moderated by Dr Godfrey Asiimwe, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Development Studies, College of Humanities and Social Sciences. Dr Asiimwe also contributed an article titled, “The impact of neoliberal reforms on Uganda’s socio- economic landscape”.

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See attached the publication

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