The Village Court and the Withdrawn State

Ben Jones

in Beyond the State in Rural Uganda

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print December 2008 | ISBN: 9780748635184
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748652990 | DOI:
The Village Court and the Withdrawn State

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This chapter argues that the continued presence of the village court is best understood in relation to the underlying history of the Teso region. The court was not an outgrowth of the reforms introduced in the 1980s and 1990s but had been in existence, in some form, for several decades. Much of its authority depended, paradoxically perhaps, on the idea that the court represented an idea of governmental authority in the village. The village court in Oledai mattered because it offered villagers a way of dealing with the memory of the Teso Insurgency. The chapter also discusses the particular pattern of arguments and judgments that emerged in court. The court connected up to the work of burial societies and churches. These not only settled private disputes, but also articulated public concerns. All of this meant that the village council evolved more in relation to the experience of the Teso Insurgency than in response to the government's decentralisation agenda.

Keywords: village council; village court; Uganda; Oleda; insurgency; Teso

Chapter.  13130 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: African Studies

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