AbstractThis thesis generates an account of life in a marketplace in Kampala, Uganda, through an ethnographic engagement with its vendors, traders, hawkers, transporters and service providers. It traces the development of Nakasero market from a colonial facility to a dense assemblage of products, peoples and practices from across Uganda and the broader region. Faced with the challenge of getting along amid ongoing processes of social, economic and political change, I argue that people in the market invest considerable time and energy in relationships and associations, drawing together ideas and practices from institutions with long histories in Kampala and Buganda. Nakasero market has been witness to many of the political and economic disturbances of postcolonial Uganda: from the Asian expulsion and the magendo (black market) of the 1970s, to the structural adjustment programmes (SAPs) and privatisation initiatives of the 1990s. However, rather than being passive recipients of these events, people in the market have engaged in collective subjective practices to reinterpret and remake them, producing alternative visions of social and moral prosperity. The findings of the thesis inform two separate literatures. First, they challenge studies of change in urban African settings conducted under the metanarratives of ‘crisis’ and ‘informality’, which tend to conceal the multiplicity of forms through which life in the city is articulated and expressed. Second, they suggest the need for post-structural accounts of African cities to consider the enduring role of cultural idioms, such as that of ‘heart’ (omutima), in shaping the actions and perspectives of urban African inhabitants.
Monteith, William (2016) Heart and struggle : life in Nakasero market 1912-2015. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.