When Rights Come Home: The Intimate Politics of Women’s Rights in Urban Uganda
Abstract

Abstract:

Discussions of human rights in Africa often turn on a clash between western assumptions about the sovereign individual and African kin-based identities sustained through ties of reciprocity. While this framing has proved useful in troubling notions of universal rights, it has also obscured complex African engagements with contemporary rights discourse. An important step in mapping these more nuanced dynamics is examining the intimate politics of rights in everyday social interaction. Drawing on ethnographic research of long-term, intimate relationships in urban Uganda, this article shows that intricate negotiations over men’s authority and women’s agency occur in these relationships as women’s rights are remade within the local context. This article, therefore, provides much needed attention to the intimate politics of women’s rights, both in terms of how intimate relationships shape the meaning of rights as well as how rights shape intimacy in urban Africa.