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Lwanga, Charles (2020) AUDIBLE PUBLICS: POPULAR MUSIC AND THE POLITICS OF PARTICIPATION IN POSTCOLONIAL UGANDA. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This dissertation project is a historical and analytical examination of how popular music has participated in the transformation of Uganda’s public sphere into a more participatory space since the early 1990s. Popular music has rendered previously marginalized publics audible and visible. By marginalized, I refer to the trivialization of the social aspirations of collectivities by the state or the dominant public. By publics, I refer to collectivities that exchange information, debate ideas, and advocate for change in physical and virtual spaces. “Marginalized publics” are thus, collectivities identified by processes of sharing information, debating ideas, and advocating for social change. When president Yoweri Museveni and his National Resistance Army/Movement (NRA/M) took over power from General Tito Okello Lutwa in 1986, he promised fundamental change. Although Museveni has tried his best, most of his promises about change have not yet been delivered. Moreover, Museveni’s ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party has since the early 1990s, increasingly been hostile to the basic rights of assemblage, association and the freedom of expression. Ironically, the hostility of Museveni’s government has promoted rather than prevented the rise of multiple publics that are advocating for social change in the country. Drawing on fieldwork in Uganda’s capital, Kampala, this dissertation project examines the rise of popular music in rendering five marginalized publics audible: Buganda kingdom, the LGBT collectivity, the Kampala street laborers, Besigye’s “peoples’ government,” and Bobi Wine’s “people-power” public. I argue that the rise of marginalized publics was simultaneously enhanced by the return to relative (but precarious) peace in the early 1990s, the establishment of democratic organs such as the Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) to act as a watch dog against human rights violations, as well as the liberalization (and privatization) of media in the country, which promoted more public avenues of participation (such as privately-owned radio and television stations, and the internet/social media). Through a music-cultural analytical lens, my dissertation project contributes to an understanding of power and representation among emergent democracies. It enriches the growing body of regional studies about music and its dynamic creation of cultural and historical meanings within particular social-cultural contexts.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Lwanga, Charleschl124@pitt.educhl124
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairWeintraub, Andrewanwein@pitt.edianwein
Committee MemberAgawu,
Committee MemberSteingo,
Committee MemberHelbig, Adrianaanh59@pitt.eduanh59
Committee MemberAyyagari, Shalinisayyagari@pitt.edusayyagari
Date: 16 September 2020
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 2 March 2020
Approval Date: 16 September 2020
Submission Date: 8 July 2020
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 258
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Music
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Audible Publics, Sonic Antagonism. Bobi Wine, Counterpublic, LGBT, Popular Music, Buganda, People-Power, Kabaka, Ssaaka, Uganda
Date Deposited: 16 Sep 2020 14:35
Last Modified: 16 Sep 2020 14:35


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