Funding: ESRC (Postdoctoral Research Fellowship)
Researcher: Dr Jonathan Fisher
This project investigates the place of African states in the international system and seeks to understand what space exists for aid-dependent governments to exercise agency in relations with donors. In exploring these issues it focus on the case of Uganda‘s NRM regime which has enjoyed very substantial international support despite its increasingly authoritarian nature, destabilising regional policy and questionable human rights record. The two central questions posed are therefore: why has Uganda benefited from such uncritical international support and what role has the NRM regime itself played in bringing about this situation?‘ The project also compares Uganda‘s experience to those of Ethiopia, Kenya and Rwanda to demonstrate the broader relevance of these questions.
The starting point of the project is the acknowledgement that donors have taken a lenient approach to Uganda because they perceive it as valuable as an economic success story, an ally in the ‘War on Terror‘ and a guarantor of regional stability. These perceptions, however, are just that: perceptions. They do not necessarily reflect reality nor are they formed without input from Africa, as some inadvertently suggest. Indeed, the principal point of departure for this project is the realisation that these three donor perceptions of Uganda have been actively constructed, moulded, managed and bolstered by Kampala itself in an effort to shore-up international support. Using a variety of ‘image management‘ strategies the regime has succeeded in convincing its donors to see it as a valuable ally worth supporting.
The project intends to build on doctoral research into this subject and disseminate the findings of a DPhil of the same name undertaken at the University of Oxford between 2007-2011. The primary aims and objectives are as follows:
- to disseminate research findings as widely as possible to both scholarly and policy-oriented audiences in the UK, Europe, US and Uganda. I will therefore be presenting papers at eight conferences and seminar series in the UK, Sweden, US and Uganda between 2011-2012.
- to publish the research findings in top-ranked international journals and as book chapters in forthcoming edited volumes on the 2011 Ugandan elections, the ‘image’ of Africa and African agency in the international system.
- to consolidate and develop international networks with relevant stakeholders in the policy and academic communities in order to maximize impact opportunities.
‘Managing perceptions: Contextualizing Uganda’s 2007 intervention in Somalia’, African Affairs (forthcoming, July 2012)
‘The limits – and limiters – of international influence: The role of donors in Uganda’s 2011 election’, in edited volume entitled Towards a Multiparty Democracy? Uganda’s 2011 Elections (forthcoming, 2013)
For further information about this project please contact:
Dr Jonathan Fisher (email@example.com)