Institute of African Studies - Columbia University

A History of Motherhood in Nineteenth Century Uganda

Event Details

A History of Motherhood in Nineteenth Century Uganda
Professor Rhiannon Stephens, Columbia University Chairs: Hlonipha Mokoena and Gregory Mann
Date: 
February 12, 2013 - 6:00pm to 8:00pm
Location: 
Columbia University Faculty House

Abstract: This paper traces the very different ways in which people mobilised motherhood as a social institution and an ideology in central and eastern Uganda as they faced the rapid economic and political changes of the nineteenth century. It argues that this was a period of contradictions in relation to motherhood’s role in the societies of the region. Motherhood remained central to social cohesion, particularly in the east, in a continuation albeit not unchanged of a much older tradition. This was reflected in the power wielded by queen mothers and in the political and ritual importance of a woman’s children to her kin. At the same time and especially in Buganda, men sought – often through violence – to undermine both the queen mother’s authority and the importance of her family in the kingdom. These tensions came to a head at the end of the century with the imposition of colonial rule and the exclusion of women from power.

Columbia University Faculty House (directions available here)

RSVP to sfd2107@columbia.edu if you would like to join the group for dinner at a nearby restaurant following the talk.