Exchange to Change Sept 2017 20170911 E2C zomer web | Page 18


After Rape : Violence ,

Justice and Social Harmony in Uganda by Holly Porter

E2C : What is your background in development studies , and how did you end up joining IOB as a postdoctoral researcher ?
HP : I studied development studies as an undergraduate student in the United States at the University of Denver . After that , I began working as a development practitioner in Northern Uganda , where I thought ‘ if I find something that can hold my attention , something that I am really fascinated by and think is important , for more than 10 years , then I should do a PhD .’ And then I found that something , which was what I work on now : gender relationships , sexual violence , sexual norms , and how these intersect with post-war recovery and justice . I did a PhD which led to my first book , After Rape : Violence , Justice and Social Harmony
Exchange to change September 2017 in Uganda . After my PhD at the London School of Economics I continued there as a Research Fellow for the Justice and Security Research Programme in northern Uganda until December 2016 when that project was finishing up , I was offered the Marie Sklodowska-Curie fellowship to come and be hosted at IOB .
E2C : Your current project has the intriguing theme of “ Sex and War .” Can you tell us a bit more about this project ? What is the main issue you are addressing ?
HP : My first book focused mainly on sexual violence , but my current project moves beyond that and looks at the relationship between sex and war . Most work on the topic of sex and war is concerned with the terrible occurrence of sexual violence that oftentimes takes place during war ; there ’ s really evocative language that describes rape as a weapon of war , or talks about the female body being a battlefield . But there ’ s also many similarities with violence that happens before and after conflict . This project aims to explore the relationship between sex and war , in other words , the relationship between violence and what are considered ‘ normal ’ male and female relationships , particularly intimate and sexual relationships . It ’ s a study in Acholi that looks at changing dynamics of gender , sexuality , and relationships in this particular post-war context . It ’ s an ethnographic study on the impact of war on sexuality and gender .
E2C : Your work addresses experiences that are very sensitive and personal . Is it difficult to ask people to talk about such private issues ?
HP : It ’ s surprising , actually , how open people are to talk about these things even though they are really sensitive . One reason is that I have quite long term relationships with people here , they know that I understand the context as well as an outsider like me can . But I think most people like talking about sex ! Not just here but in general ; talking about relationships and sex is something that ’ s kind of fun and intriguing for a lot of people . I would tell people that I wanted to know about love in Acholi and how the war has changed relationships , and they ’ d laugh and say “ ohhh , love !” But people love talking about that stuff ! Even when it gets more sensitive or touches on issues of violence , I think people like to be given permission to bring things into light that normally have to remain hidden . This is especially true if they feel like they have been treated badly or have been wronged , but they don ’ t think that they ’ ll have a sympathetic ear from the people who are around them .