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
February 12, 2013 - 6:00pm to 8:00pm
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 if you would like to join the group for dinner at a nearby restaurant following the talk.