Memorializing Struggle: Dynamics of Memory, Space and Power in Post-Liberation Africa

In post-liberation societies, memorialization and commemoration can occur at a grand, national scale, often being linked to heroic freedom fighters or critical revolutionary turning points. A key question in this regard is how these societies’ rulers – former freedom fighters themselves – memorialize their own liberation struggles, and the degree to which these processes are designed to strengthen their domestic authority. This is particularly relevant in countries such as South Africa and Uganda where post-liberation movements have held power for long periods. The strategies employed by post-liberation movements to maintain legitimacy remain an underexplored area of scholarly focus and this project makes a critical contribution to this nascent literature through exploring memorialization practices. The project compares how liberation struggles have been memorialized in South Africa under the African National Congress (ANC) and Uganda under the National Resistance Movement (NRM). The aim is to explore how these memorialization practices are used and contested within the legitimization strategies of post-liberation regimes. The research focuses on museums, monuments, spaces, discourses and ceremonies as sites of engagement and contestation. Visual and textual data will be collected from archives, mass media, observation and interviews in order to analyse the relationship between memory, space and power.

Project leader(s):
  • Jonathan Fisher (African Politics, International Development Department (IDD), University of Birmingham)

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