Accepted Paper:

has pdf download Visualising power discourse in the museum: the 'Unseen Archives of Idi Amin' exhibition  


Adebo Nelson Abiti (University of Western Cape)

Paper long abstract:

This paper seeks to discuss the contested temporary exhibition on 'Unseen Archives of Idi Amin'. The photographic exhibition was staged in Kampala 2019, after the 40 years fall of Idi Amin's military power in Uganda from 1971 to 1979. While Amin's rule was known for the cause of brutal mass murders and expulsion of Asian communities from Uganda (Mazrui Ali, 1980). However, since the British colonial government established the Uganda Museum, its ethnographic gallery displays had not changed over the years. Yet the epistemologies of collecting the native artefacts generated ethnographic knowledge of separate categories of societies. This haunted colonial knowledge and experience of the ethnographic museum has been a set of contestation on why museums in Africa and more so the Uganda National Museum has continued to display the old colonial knowledge of ethnic and tribal artefacts to represent the contemporary Ugandan society. Although the debates on postcolonial Uganda have continued to evolve and shape the future of Uganda, however, the 'unseen archive of Idi Amin' photographic exhibition was also another contested project for rethinking about the Uganda Museum. The aim of this paper, therefore, is to explore the question on why the photographic exhibition on Idi Amin was constituted as public history for remaking society at the Uganda Museum. The second part asks on how the exhibition was viewed by various groups in Kampala and other towns and what were the critical responses.

Key words: Exhibition, Photography, Ethnography, Knowledge.

Panel B09
Decolonizing African heritage inside and outside the African continent [initiated by the University of Mainz, with Leiden University/Anthropology, University of Rwanda]