Identity Reconfigured: Karimojong Male Youth, Violence, and Liveihoods.
Abstract: ABSTRACT This dissertation examines internal violence among the
once-unified Karimojong population of northeastern Uganda and argues that the
intensification and increase of this violence over the past three decades is best
understood through an analysis of both its gendered nature (i.e., male) and livelihood
components. The dissertation uses primary data to review and discuss four h... read moreypotheses on
the causes of violence associated with cattle raiding in pastoral areas: violence as
linked to the acquisition of cattle for bridewealth, violence due to the collapse of
traditional authority structures, violence as part of the competition over scarce natural
resources, and violence as fueled by the commercialization of cattle raiding. This study
finds that while elements of each of these hypotheses have some relevance for
understanding violence among the Karimojong in the 1980s and 1990s, violence as
experienced since 2000 is primarily a manifestation of the quest for respect, status and
identity on the part of young men. Social, political and economic changes in Karamoja have
gradually eroded the means through which males were able to establish and maintain a
socially recognized masculinity; many of these changes were brought on by the very
violence under examination. Faced with the erosion of traditional rites of passage marked
by initiation and marriage, young men increasingly turned inward to their peer group in
search of solidarity and worth. However, many of the means to establish and maintain
status and reputation within the group themselves entail violence. Ultimately, this study
finds that violence has become embedded within a cycle of maladaptive livelihoods and
serves to perpetuate conflict, undermine the livelihoods base for the broader society, and
upend the official and unofficial processes through which young men can achieve a
normative masculine identity.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Tufts University, 2013.
Submitted to the Dept. of Diplomacy, History, and Politics.
Advisor: Peter Uvin.
Committee: Helen Young, and Jenny Aker.
Keywords: International relations, Cultural anthropology, and African studies.read less