Social struggles in Uganda's Acholiland: understanding responses and resistance to Amuru sugar works

Volume Number
Type of Publication
Link to Article
Main Author
Dr. Giuliano Martiniello
Journal Name
Journal of Peasant Studies
Taylor & Francis Online


On Wednesday 18 April 2012, between 80 and 100 women from Amuru District in northern Uganda stripped naked in a protest to block their eviction from land they claim is rightfully theirs. They did this in front of representatives of the Local District Board and surveyors of the sugar company Madhvani Group, the firm seeking land in the area for sugarcane growing. By resisting dispossession and challenging state violence, small-scale poor peasants reiterated the political salience of rural social struggles and highlighted the significance of land and agrarian questions.

By placing social struggles over control, access and use of land and existing social relations – property and labour regimes – at the core of social analysis, this papers aims to contribute to further understanding both the character of contemporary land grabs and the nature of peasant resistance. It argues that escalating rural social protests manifested in both everyday, hidden practices of resistance and moments of open, militant contestation are aimed at (re)establishing and securing access to means of social reproduction. Yet these struggles cumulatively embody claims of land sovereignty and autonomy vis-à-vis capitalist markets and state.