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SCAPEGOATING AS A PRACTICE OF RULE AND ACTOR (DE-)LEGITIMIZATION: CAPITALISM, RACE, AND GENDER IN UGANDA’S FISH AND LAND GOVERNANCE
This dissertation seeks to address the question of when and why people come to perceive rules governing fish and land resources in Uganda as illegitimate or legitimate. The question of legitimacy is an important one for scholarship on natural resources and conflict in Uganda, particularly, and Sub-Saharan Africa more generally, as research has shown that whether people comply with state policies on natural resources depends to a significant extent on whether they perceive these policies to be legitimate. Based on seven months of critical ethnographic field research and drawing from an interdisciplinary body of literature in political ecology, political geography, development studies, cultural anthropology, feminist scholarship, and postcolonial studies, I develop a theoretical framework that identifies ‘scapegoating’ as an example of a process of (de-)legitimizing rules and actors. Scapegoating is an everyday practice that shifts blame by diversion and is enabled by two conditions. First, Uganda’s fragmented political and administrative landscape – resulting from decades of British indirect colonial rule and subsequent (neoliberal) decentralization and privatization reforms – provides fertile ground for the practice of scapegoating to emerge. Second, the practice derives meaning from three situated historical narratives that I define as narratives of capitalism, racialized hierarchies, and gender relations. These narratives are deeply rooted in the country’s history of colonialism and work through a logic of othering. By taking an in-depth look at everyday lived experiences around rules in Uganda’s fisheries and land governance sectors, this dissertation explores how scapegoating exploits the fragmented institutional landscape and draws meaning from these three intersecting historical narratives, and how this – in turn – shapes people’s perceptions of the (il)legitimacy of rules and actors.