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Book Launch for Contesting Catholics

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This event explores the competing Catholic political and historical projects that circulated and clashed in late colonial Uganda.

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This forum will discuss the recently-launched book, Contesting Catholics (Religion in Transforming Africa Series, James Currey, 2021). It aims to rethink the creation of modern Uganda—and Uganda's political history writing—through the eyes of Benedicto Kiwanuka and competing Catholic activists. The talk will also reflect on the writing process, including the unearthing of Benedicto Kiwanuka's private papers.

Assassinated by Idi Amin, Benedicto Kiwanuka was Uganda’s most controversial and disruptive politician. On the eve of independence, he led the Democratic Party (DP), a national movement of predominantly Catholic activists, to end political inequalities and religious discrimination. Along the way, he became Uganda’s first prime minister and first Ugandan chief justice. Earle and Carney show how Kiwanuka and Catholic activists struggled to create an inclusive vision of the state, a vision that resulted in relentless intimidation and extra-judicial killings. Focusing closely on the competing Catholic projects that circulated throughout Uganda, this book offers new ways of thinking about the history of democratic thought, while pushing the study of Catholicism in Africa outside of the church and beyond the gaze of missionaries. Drawing on never before seen sources from Kiwanuka’s personal papers, the authors upend many of the assumptions that have framed Uganda’s political and religious history for over sixty years.

Participants

Adam Branch, Director of the Centre of African Studies, Cambridge University

J. J. Carney, Associate Professor of Theology, Creighton University

Jonathon Earle, Visiting Fellow, Trinity College, Cambridge University, and Grissom Professor of Social Studies, Centre College

Christopher Muhoozi, Northwestern University and Makerere University

John Lonsdale, Professor of African History, Cambridge University


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