University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Centre of African Studies Lent Seminar Series > Village identity papers and the production of moral homelands in Uganda

Village identity papers and the production of moral homelands in Uganda

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Biometric National Identity Cards were introduced by the Ugandan central government from 2014, yet archival research and ethnographic fieldwork in varied parts of the country reveal that the production of identity papers has a long, plural and localised history throughout the country. Since the early 1980s, village leaders have been issuing village identity cards and letters of introduction to residents. This paper explores the social and localised although connected logics that have led to the development of these bureaucracies of identity at the village level. It seeks to unpack the social conditions, the varied moral ambitions, and the particular histories of social differentiation and literacy that lead to the production of identity documents. It shows that while they embraced the national agenda of technological renewal of identity documentation, village leaders did it on their own terms, with the ambition to produce moral and cosmopolitan communities of “good character citizens”, anchored in hierarchical social sieves, rather than mere “ethnicised” individuals.

This talk is part of the Centre of African Studies Lent Seminar Series series.

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