Why Africa? Uganda’s Epidemic in Historical Perspective

  • Colleen O’Manique
Part of the International Political Economy Series book series (IPES)


In the pages that follow, I present an analysis of the historical foundations of Uganda’s AIDS epidemic. The purpose is twofold: first, to illuminate the features of the region’s economic and political development that help to explain the contemporary spread of HIV; and second, to provide the general historical context of the institutional response during the past two decades. I want to tease out of colonial history the factors that have contributed to high levels of infection, and to today’s local politics of survival in Uganda. The three factors that I focus on are colonial land policies, labour policies, and social policy as administered through missionaries. During the colonial period we see in Uganda the introduction of the system of migrant labour, and the economic development of some regions at the expense of others, causing significant societal disruption at multiple levels – from the personal to the regional. These processes further eroded women’s position within their communities and precipitated the breakdown of the extended family system in some regions – the very system that is the supposed backbone of the contemporary community response to HIV/AIDS. The immediate post-colonial period further entrenched the conditions that led to Uganda’s high levels of HIV spread during the 1980s.


Sexual Violence Historical Perspective Land Tenure Colonial Period Colonial Government 
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Copyright information

© Colleen O’Manique 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Colleen O’Manique
    • 1
  1. 1.Trent UniversityCanada

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