Life beyond the camp : rethinking return, reconstruction and women's expression of lived experiences in Northern Uganda
The conflict in Northern Uganda is recognized as having come to an end with the signing of a cessation of hostilities agreement between the Lord’s Resistance Army and the Government of Uganda in August 2006, which resulted in improved security. Estimates suggest that the majority of the displaced populations have left their camps and moved either to transit sites near farms or to their village of origin. Much research has been done on the living conditions of women in the Ugandan IDP camps yet very little has been written on the situation for women who return home or resettle after the camp. This study aims at understanding the gender specific challenges of formerly conflict-displaced women returnees in the Gulu province of the Acholi district, as a first step towards reconstruction in the region. The paper seeks to explore the various paths these women take to establish stability in their daily lives and overcome these challenges and how they cope with trauma, gender-based violence and the experience of returning 'home' after living in displacement camps. It seeks to describe an ethnographical, phenomenological and sociopolitical background to women's experience of return. Moreover, the paper explores the idea of transition between life in the IDP camps and life at home as well as how this transition affects women. Drawing on visual ethnography methods (Pink, 2001) and the photo voice approach (Wang, 1997), women’s lived experience of the difficult process and complex transition will be documented through illustrations and photography and their stories will be reported in a participatory way to explore the challenges and spatial boundaries between different surroundings. One of the main objectives of the photo voice approach is to provide women with cameras and have them photograph what represents their struggles and daily life as well as what defines ‘home’ and the memory of ‘home’ to them. Ideally, success stories from women will be collected which can then serve as an encouragement to other women still living in the camps to return home as well as illustrate the role of women in development and post-conflict peace building. Sharing life stories through photography and video may promote critical dialogue within the community and help reach policy makers in an advocacy effort. ...
Alternative titleRethinking return, reconstruction and women's expression of lived experiences in Northern Uganda
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