Beyond Monuments: The politics and poetics of memory in post-war northern Uganda | National Inquiry Services Centre

Beyond Monuments

Beyond Monuments: The politics and poetics of memory in post-war northern Uganda

The politics and poetics of memory in post-war northern Uganda

By Laury L. Ocen
Size: 170x 240 mm
Pages: 280 pages
ISBN 13: 978-1-920033-97-2 (paperback)
Published: December 2022
Publishers: NISC (Pty) Ltd
Recommended Retail Price: R 32,500.00 325.00
Cover: Paperback

About the book

Beyond Monuments: The politics and poetics of memory in post-war northern Uganda explores themes of war and peace, displacement and return, and remembering and forgetting, depicted as experiences of survivors of mass violence in the northern Uganda civil wars between 1987 and 2006. Presented as dichotomies marking key transitional moments negotiated by NGOs, governments, and post-war communities in northern Uganda, the analysis of these themes emphasises how ordinary survivors of war make claims – through oral performances, memoirs, reminiscences, and place and personal names – that foreground memories threatened with amnesia, resulting from state and NGO driven commemorations. 

Beyond Monuments shows the intersection between literature and material arts and, as a result, stylistically it shifts focus from conventional literature, defined in the genre of novels, plays, essays and short stories, to include non-inscribed or thinly inscribed texts such as cenotaphs, sculptures, statues, and other concrete objects used in the making of memory. Beyond Monuments – which shapes debates in the subjects of transitional justice, conflict management, resilience, recovery, and peace – will find a wide audience, ranging from teachers of literature and scholars of the fine arts to memory anthropologists, cultural historians, humanitarian agencies, government officials, social workers, and readers interested in the intellectual histories of neglected societies.

Reviewer’s Comments


The monograph engages with topics that are urgent across Africa, namely war commemoration – in particular, of the war dead – and competing discourses of nation-building and peace-building … This is a smart and original work with unique cross-disciplinary insights into and fresh ideas about popular culture and orality, and how these relate to memory and commemoration.
Dr Carli Coetzee, Oxford School of Global and Area Studies, Oxford University, UK

Most books on the war in Northern Uganda or on Uganda's war experiences tend to focus on historical or anthropological angles. This work looks at how intangible and marginal arts reveal the lived experiences of ordinary communities in war contexts. I regard this as groundbreaking research that will further conversations on how Ugandan war experiences and histories are remembered, fashioned and re-fashioned through orature and memorial artefacts.
Professor Susan Kiguli, Department of Literature, Makerere University, Uganda

Part of the African Humanities Series


About the Authors

Laury L. Ocen is currently a lecturer in the Department of Professional Studies, Faculty of Education, Lira University, Uganda. He is the author of several literary works, including The Alien Woman (1997) and Ruins of a Star (2003) and two books in Leblango, namely Tua Me Ngec (2010), a collection of Lango proverbs, idioms and sayings, co-authored with James Ocita and Godman Okonye, and Apit Arac Geno Bwo-ngor (2011). Dr Ocen is the recipient of a number of international awards and fellowships. These include Makerere Institute of Social Research Doctoral Fellowship (2012–2016), International Development Research Council and Carnegie Corporation of New York Fellowship (2013–2014), Next Generation Social Science Research Fellowship (2016), African Humanities Fellowship (2015) and the University of Michigan African Presidential Scholars’ Fellowship (2015–2016). Ocen is a renowned drama activist, director, actor, and socio-political commentator.


Chapter 1: Post-independence discourses of memory 
Chapter 2: Territorial militias and quotidian memories 
Chapter 3: Multidisciplinary reading of war monuments 
Chapter 4: Dynamics of individual and collective remembering 
Chapter 5: Interpreting mnemonics of war 
Chapter 6: Interventions, relations, and new imaginaries 
Chapter 7: Discourses of war, memory, and the future 


Order Enquiries

You may contact NISC to purchase this book, however other purchasing options are available. Please see ordering details below:


Order online through from the African Books CollectiveAmazon or order from your local book store.


Order from the African Books Collective.