Critical hermeneutics and conflict resolution : an assessment of the transition from conflict to peace in Teso, Uganda, 1986-2000
Soon after Yoweri Museveni's military seizure of power in Uganda in 1986, an insurgency war broke out in the north-eastern region of Teso. After six years of fighting a resolution was mediated by a number of agents drawn partly from the Museveni government and partly from local, indigenous resources in Teso. Today, despite lingering resentment against Museveni, the Teso insurgency is one of the few rare cases in Africa were a conflict was resolved by peaceful means. Taking a lead from Vivienne Jabri's Discourses on Violence the thesis seeks to situate the emergence and support of the Teso insurgency within the discourse that prevailed in the region at the time. The fighting was enabled by an interpretation of the Museveni government as being hostile to the people of Teso, yet it was also facilitated by a prevailing culture of violence. Understanding what causes an insurgency provides valuable insights into understanding what causes peace. The thesis therefore seeks to situate the emergence and support for peace in discourse. It discusses the different governmental and non-governmental agents that played a role in transforming the 'conflict discourse' into a 'peace discourse'. Reflecting back on the past of the insurgency and looking forward to the future, the thesis places the process of reconciliation in Teso between past and future. The link between past, present and future is also subject to 'hermeneutics'. Hermeneutics signifies the way understanding is accomplished between, for instance, two parties to a conflict. It argues that the reflecting back to the past is conditioned by a particular anticipation of the future, and vice versa. Although providing a valuable framework to analyse the transition from conflict to peace, hermeneutics is problematic in the way it confornts the problem of authenticity, and it also fails to account for power asymmetries which determine the process of understanding. This thesis suggests expanding it to 'critical hermeneutics' as a way of responding to the issues.