“In eight engaging chapters … Alicia Decker traces the complex relationship between Amin’s regime and Uganda’s women, from the early years when women hailed Amin as a liberator to the darkest period when they hoped and prayed for a Tanzanian army invasion. … The question of how Idi Amin’s regime reorganized gender norms is a crucial one for the book. Decker explores the innovations in gender performance that followed Idi Amin’s rise to power. …This is of course just one of the many rich discussion points that the book gifts the reader with. The book makes a substantial addition to the field of African History. It would work well for courses or discussions on military history, military rule in Africa, women and gender courses, feminist history, postcolonial studies, and Cold War studies.”
Canadian Journal of History
“Alicia Decker uses an array of evidence from oral, visual, and written sources. The result is an impressive compilation of case studies that illustrate the different aspects of women’s experiences and the intricate world they navigated.”
Nakanyike Musisi, coauthor of Decentralisation and Transformation of Governance in Uganda and coeditor of Women in African Colonial Histories
“Focusing on the lives of women who survived his rule, Alicia Decker's meticulously researched and crisply written study explains not only why but how Amin’s brutality reached the level it did. This is a particularly important contribution, because Ugandan women have been considered marginal to this sociopolitical history. … Throughout the book she demonstrates the methodological and ethical challenges of conducting historical research on a period that still engenders fearful memories, and the book’s appendix and the section titled ‘Methods and Sources’ provide valuable guidelines for future research.”
African Studies Review
“Decker’s study is a fine contribution to histories of militarism in Africa, African gender studies, the study of the state in Africa, and scholarship on Uganda in the 1970s in particular. …[she] provides an excellent example of the possibilities of feminist history writing by placing gender and militarism side-by-side in her study; she also offers a lucid and highly sought-after account of everyday lived experience during an era that continues to be characterized by an architecture of silence in Uganda today.”
Journal of African History
In Idi Amin’s Shadow is a rich social history examining Ugandan women’s complex and sometimes paradoxical relationship to Amin’s military state. Based on more than one hundred interviews with women who survived the regime, as well as a wide range of primary sources, this book reveals how the violence of Amin’s militarism resulted in both opportunities and challenges for women. Some assumed positions of political power or became successful entrepreneurs, while others endured sexual assault or experienced the trauma of watching their brothers, husbands, or sons “disappeared” by the state’s security forces. In Idi Amin’s Shadow considers the crucial ways that gender informed and was informed by the ideology and practice of militarism in this period. By exploring this relationship, Alicia C. Decker offers a nuanced interpretation of Amin’s Uganda and the lives of the women who experienced and survived its violence.
Each chapter begins with the story of one woman whose experience illuminates some larger theme of the book. In this way, it becomes clear that the politics of military rule were highly relevant to women and gender relations, just as the politics of gender were central to militarism. By drawing upon critical security studies, feminist studies, and violence studies, Decker demonstrates that Amin’s dictatorship was far more complex and his rule much more strategic than most observers have ever imagined.
Alicia C. Decker is an associate professor of women’s studies and African studies at Pennsylvania State University. She is the coauthor, with Andrea Arrington, of Africanizing Democracies: 1980 to the Present. Her scholarly articles have appeared in the International Journal of African Historical Studies, Women’s History Review, and the Journal of Eastern African Studies, among others. More info →
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In Making Modern Girls, Abosede A. George examines the influence of African social reformers and the developmentalist colonial state on the practice and ideology of girlhood as well as its intersection with child labor in Lagos, Nigeria. It draws from gender studies, generational studies, labor history, and urban history to shed new light on the complex workings of African cities from the turn of the twentieth century through the nationalist era of the 1950s.
States of Marriage shows how throughout the colonial period in French Sudan (present-day Mali) the institution of marriage played a central role in how the empire defined its colonial subjects as gendered persons with certain attendant rights and privileges. The book is a modern history of the ideological debates surrounding the meaning of marriage, as well as the associated legal and sociopolitical practices in colonial and postcolonial Mali.
The Gender of Piety is an intimate history of the Brethren in Christ Church in Zimbabwe, or BICC, as related through six individual life histories that extend from the early colonial years through the first decade after independence. Taken together, these six lives show how men and women of the BICC experienced and sequenced their piety in different ways. Women usually remained tied to the church throughout their lives, while men often had a more strained relationship with it.
Conjugal Rights is a history of the role of marriage and other arrangements between men and women in Libreville, Gabon, during the French colonial era, from the mid–nineteenth century through 1960. Conventional historiography has depicted women as few in number and of limited influence in African colonial towns, but this book demonstrates that a sexual economy of emotional, social, legal, and physical relationships between men and women indelibly shaped urban life.Bridewealth
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