Katharine Lindquist

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Emory U.

Grant number

Gr. 10231

Approve Date

October 7, 2021

Project Title

Lindquist, Katharine (Emory U.) "Africa Rising, Africa Uprising: Middle-Class Futures in Urban Uganda"

KATHARINE LINDQUIST, then a graduate student at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, was awarded funding in October 2021 to aid research on “Africa Rising, Africa Uprising: Middle-Class Futures in Urban Uganda,” supervised by Dr. Bruce Knauft. This dissertation project investigated the role of young, middle-class professionals in helping determine the future direction of urban Uganda. Since the beginning of the 21st century, popularized development narratives of ‘Africa Rising’ have projected the future of Africa as a neoliberal success story. Much less publicized is the story of ‘Africa Uprising,’ embodied in the recent wave of social justice-oriented popular protest that has engulfed urban landscapes. Young professionals in Kampala — Uganda’s capital — feel the push and pull of these two futures orientations acutely, constantly negotiating between the allure of a middle-class lifestyle and the seemingly inescapable realities of urban inequality in an increasingly autocratic state. Drawing on twelve months of ethnographic research in Kampala, this project found that young professionals have deep political commitments to progressive causes but see the autocratic political landscape as too dangerous to participate in openly. Instead, young professionals engage in political action in ways that subvert state surveillance, often building networks of communication and redistribution that exceed class lines. This political praxis is premised on notions of the future that combine orientations of hope and ambivalence, revealing a belief in the Uganda of tomorrow despite the lack of a clear political pathway towards that future.