The Legacies of Professor M. Crawford Young

Symposium in Memory of Professor M. Crawford Young

Aili Tripp, Scott Straus, and Michael Schatzberg, in coordination with the African Studies Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, are hosting an in-person symposium in memory of Professor M. Crawford Young at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, April 1-2, 2022.

We look forward to seeing friends, members of Crawford’s family, and alumni at the event!

Aili Tripp

Wangari Maathai Professor of Political Science and Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Scott Straus

Professor of Political Science at the University of California-Berkeley.

Michael Schatzberg

Professor Emeritus of Political Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

See the tabs below for more information on the Symposium & Crawford Young’s legacy. 

To register click here.



 Professor Emeritus M. Crawford Young, of the political science department, died on January 21, 2020, in Madison, WI.

He was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on 7 November 1931. He lived there until high school, when his family moved to Washington, DC, where his father was appointed to the Federal Reserve during the Eisenhower administration. His mother, Louise Young, an English professor at American University, had a strong influence on his interest in the study of politics, having written a book on the League of Women Voters and its vital post suffrage role.

He graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School in 1949. After completing his bachelor’s degree at the University of Michigan in 1953, he joined the army for two years, first in the infantry and then as the aide-de-camp of a major general.  He then worked for two years with the International Students Association in Paris. There he met and married Rebecca (Becky) Young (1934-2008) on 17 August 1957. After completing his doctorate at Harvard, he joined the political science department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1963. Young was tenured only three years after being hired at a time when the tenure requirements were not as stringent as they are today. He became chair of the department in 1969, only six years after receiving his doctorate.

Young was also a visiting professor at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda (1965-66), Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences at Université Nationale du Zaire, Lubumbashi, (Democratic Republic of Congo, known then as Zaire) from 1973 to 1975 and visiting professor in the Faculty of Law at Université Cheikh Anta Diop de Dakar (Senegal), 1987‑88, where he held a Fulbright Fellowship. He was also invited as a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study (Princeton), (1980-81), and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars (1983-84).

At UW-Madison, Professor Young helped get the African Studies Program off the ground after its inception in 1961 and served as its chair from 1964-65 and 1966-68. He chaired the Department of Political Science (1969-72, 1984-87) and served as Associate Dean of the Graduate School (1968-71) and acting dean of the College of Letters & Science (1991-92). Over the years he served on a wide range of committees across campus, chairing the Search and Screen Committee for the Chancellor, which hired Donna Shalala, and chairing the Transportation Demand Management Committee, where his strong advocacy for greater bus use, earned him the affectionate appellation from colleagues as “The Pol Pot of Parking.” This amused him to no end.

Beyond UW-Madison, he also served as President of the African Studies Association (1982-83), and won the ASA Distinguished Africanist Award (1990). He was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences 1998 and earned an Honorary Degree from Florida International University that same year.

Crawford Young’s productivity throughout his career and even after retirement was remarkable. He published numerous influential monographs, establishing himself as a leading scholar of African politics and the preeminent scholar of the African state.  Crawford Young’s first book, Politics in the Congo (Princeton University Press, 1965), based on his PhD thesis, was a study in federalism in the context of ethnic politics. Ideology and Development in Africa (Yale University Press, 1982), identified three major ideological streams in Africa (Afromarxism, populist socialism and African capitalism) and looked at the different policy consequences of the various ideological preferences.  The book was widely adopted by African politics classes until the breakup of the Soviet Union led to a decline in the Afromarxist orientation. His return to Zaire in 1973-75 allowed him to work on his manuscript with a former student, Thomas Turner, The Rise and Decline of the Zairian State, (University of Wisconsin Press, 1985), which became the authoritative study of the Mobutu regime. The Politics of Cultural Pluralism (University of Wisconsin Press, 1976) won the Herskovits Prize (best book in African Studies, African Studies Association, 1977), and was co-winner of the Ralph Bunche Prize (best book in comparative ethnicity over past five years, of the American Political Science Association, 1979).

Young’s ability to synthesize the work of others, led to two masterful, far reaching volumes, The African Colonial State in Comparative Perspective (Yale University Press, 1994) and his tour de force, The Postcolonial State in Africa (University of Wisconsin Press, 2012).  These volumes established Professor Young as the preeminent scholar of the African state.  The African Colonial State explores the logic and pathologies of European colonialism in Africa the structural requirements of imperial domination. This book won him the Gregory Luebbert Prize, American Political Science Association 1995. The second book, In the Postcolonial State in Africa, Crawford Young provides a breathtakingly comprehensive overview of the fifty years following independence, drawing on the perspectives he obtained while working in Africa and his broad global points of reference. He identified three cycles of hope and disappointment, starting with the euphoria at the time of independence in the 1960s, followed by the emergence of single party autocracies and military rule.  The second period was one of state expansion in the 1970s leading to state crisis and state collapse in the 1980s. And finally, there was the third wave of democratization, starting in the 1990s and the proliferation of civil wars. His nuanced magnum opus shows how the African states increasingly diverged from one another over the half century in ways that would have been difficult to predict from the outset of independence. This book won the African Politics Conference Group award as the best book on Africa in 2012. Throughout his career Young also contributed numerous articles to professional journals and anthology chapters arising from many conference volumes.

Professor Young’s oeuvre also includes numerous other books: notable among them is a 695-page history of the Department of Political Science at UW-Madison, Political Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison: A Centennial History (University of Wisconsin Press, 2006) and his last labor of love, a self-published book honoring the pioneering efforts of his late wife as a prominent figure in Wisconsin politics, Rebecca Young, a Life of Civic Engagement and Progressive Electoral Politics (2019).She served in the Wisconsin State Assembly from 1985 to 1997. Young was devoted to his wife for their entire life together.

His outstanding reputation as a scholar of African politics naturally drew many PhD students to Madison to study with him. One of his students, Linda Thomas Greenfield, became Assistant Secretary for African Affairs, and had a long and an illustrious career in the foreign service, including holding positions as Director General of the Foreign Service and Ambassador to Liberia. Another PhD student, Steven Morrison, is senior vice president at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and director of its Global Health Policy Center. Young trained an entire generation of prominent Africa scholars, among them Michael Schatzberg, Georges Nzongola-Ntalaja, Catharine Newbury, Ed Keller, Gretchen Bauer, and Timothy Longman.

Professor Young retired from the university in 2001, remaining in Madison and living in a wing of Capitol Lakes, appropriately named “North Hall.” Young is preceded in death by his wife, Becky, and is survived by his daughters, Eva Young, Estelle Young, Emily Young, and Louise Young, who like her father, is a distinguished professor in the Department of History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Crawford Young’s career was part of the rise of the Wisconsin political science department to national recognition. He will be dearly missed by those who knew him and those who benefited from his lifelong contributions.


Aili Mari Tripp, chair

Scott Straus

Michael Schatzberg

Symposium on the Intellectual Legacies of Crawford Young

April 1-2, 2022

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Date: Friday, April 1, 2022

Time: 4:30 pm

Location: Tripp Commons or via Zoom

Remembering Crawford Young

Linda Thomas-Greenfield (United States Ambassador to the United Nations)

Anthony Chambers (grandson of Crawford Young)

Michael Schatzberg (University of Wisconsin-Madison)

Ed Keller (University of California-Los Angeles)

Georges Nzongola-Ntalaja (Ambassador of the DRC to the United Nations)

Stephen Morrison (Center for Strategic and International Studies)

Catharine Newbury (Smith College)

Richard Joseph (Northwestern University)

Kathy Cramer (University of Wisconsin-Madison)

Will Reno (Northwestern University)

6:30 pm: Reception: Tripp Commons, Memorial

Day 2

Date: Saturday, April 2, 2022

Location: Tripp Commons, Memorial Union or Via Zo0m

9:00 am –9:15 am 

Welcome to Symposium

9:15 am – 10:15 am    

First Session: The State in Africa

John Harbeson (CUNY): Democratization and State Performance 

Kaden Paulson-Smith (University of Wisconsin-Green Bay): The Colonial Legacy of Policing as State-Building

Break: 10:15 am – 10:30 am 

10:30 am – 12:15 pm   

Second Session: Women, Gender and Politics

Virginia Sapiro (Boston University, University of Wisconsin-Madison): Still Engendering Cultural Differences

Melinda Adams (James Madison University): Women’s Political Representation in Regional and Local Institutions in Cameroon

Gretchen Bauer (University of Delaware): Who Will Open the Door?’: Women in Parliament and Cabinet in Ghana

Lunch 12:15 pm – 1:30 pm  

1:30 pm – 4:00 pm

Third Session: Cultural Pluralism

Dauda Abubakar (University of Michigan-Flint): Sectarian Identity Formation and the future of the African Postcolonial State: Lessons from Nigeria

Tim Longman (Boston University): The Politics of Identity in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Thomas Turner: Cultural Pluralism on the Copper Belt: Luba Painter, German Anthropologist, American Dean, and Me

Joshua Forrest (La Roche University): Brief Reflection on Crawford Young’s Impact on my Understanding of Cultural Pluralism

Cédric Jourde (University of Ottawa): States, Regimes and Ethnicity: The Bifurcated Trajectories of the Mauritania-Senegal Borderland      

Break: 4:00 pm – 4:15 pm 

4:15 pm – 5:00 pm       

Fourth Session: Comparative Perspectives

Joel Samoff (Stanford University): Public Policy, Research, and Foreign Aid: Dimensions of the Financial Intellectual Complex

Paige T. Noah and Louis A. Picard (University of Pittsburgh): Beyond Survival: The Hidden Peoples of Uganda      

5:00 pm – 5:15 pm       

Closing Remarks


Rachel Beatty Riedl

Crawford Young’s work inspired a set of scholars to take up questions of state legacies and regime outcomes, including possibilities for democratization and forms of autocracy.  In my own thinking, the post-colonial state legacies and forms of accumulating power in the post-independence state built upon various repertoires of connecting to local socio-political power holders or attempting to diminish and replace those pre-existing socio-political loci of power with new forms of state bureaucracy and political institutions, such as political parties.  In turn, these attempts by post-independence elites to accumulate, consolidate, and centralize power had differential implications for democratization pathways and regime outcomes.  Potential regime pathways include authoritarian-led democratization (as in Ghana and Senegal), authoritarian incumbents conceding defeat to allow democratic transitions (as in South Africa and Benin), authoritarian incumbents employ institutional or coercive restrictive powers to establish new forms of autocratic regimes (as in Burundi and Zimbabwe), and opposition forces employ violence, overthrowing prior autocrats, and take power to establish new forms of autocratic regimes (as in Cote d’Ivoire).  Young’s work conceptualized these variety of regime outcomes, as well as the ways in which colonial legacies maintained through institutional and extra-institutional forms of contestation.  My contemporary extensions of Young’s work suggest that the use of electoral and representative institutions are increasingly used by authoritarian elites to protect against coups while seeking authoritarian durability and simultaneously balancing threats from opposition elites and societal mobilization. 

Will Reno

Notable instances of rapid economic growth, dramatic increases in state capacity, and the consolidation of democratic and authoritarian regimes alike suggest that the development of at least some states in Africa has taken a turn. At the end of the last century Crawford Young’s African Colonial State in Comparative Perspective argued that Africa’s distinct colonial heritage produced institutionally weak and politically unstable states across the continent. Other scholars, such as Charles Tilly, Jeffrey Herbst, Christopher Clapham, and Robert Jackson, linked this state weakness to Africa’s place in a post-World War II international order that protected even the weakest among them from many of the consequences of domestic institutional weakness and political turmoil, such as subjugation by foreigners or incorporation into new states. To what extent does Africa’s distinctive colonial legacy and the international order implicated in the persistence of state weakness still influence the trajectory of state development in Africa? More particularly, how can scholars apply the insights of Crawford Young not only to explaining the evolution of states in Africa in the 20th century, but also to account for some of these remarkable changes in our own time?      

Kaden Paulson Smith 

Workers staged a wave of strikes around the African continent following World War II, and labor organizers were in many cases connected to nationalist movements that toppled formal colonial rule.  Docks, railways, and mines became key sites for resisting suppression, but also for suppressing resistance.  This paper uses previously classified British archival records to analyze a strike staged by dockworkers in 1950 in Dar es Salaam, the colonial capital of former Tanganyika.  Workers often came head-to-head with the police, inspiring new tactics to ramp up surveillance, intelligence gathering, riot control, and strike breaking.  Building on Crawford Young’s theory of state-building, this paper argues that the police were central to manifesting the defining imperatives of the colonial state, especially hegemony and revenue generation.  African workers rejected these imperatives and colonization itself by resisting the hegemonic apparatus of the police and withholding their labor.  These confrontations between workers and the police would continue to shape policing following the end of formal colonial rule in what is now known as Tanzania.  This paper offers a new theory of the relationship between the police and state: the police attempted to establish the fundamental elements of the state and were ultimately responsible for creating the state itself.  This analysis has implications for postcolonial and contemporary policing practices and for other contexts beyond Tanzania with experiences of British coloniality.  

John Harbeson 

This brief paper will address the question of to what extent and in what ways, if any, post-Cold War democratization may have influenced Sub-Saharan African state performance and, in turn, state legitimation, one of the defining imperatives of state making examined by Crawford Young in his magisterial works on the Postcolonial State in Africa: Fifty Years of Independence 1960-2010 and his prior African Colonial State in Comparative Perspective.  Considerable new data has become available bearing on widely reported continual sub-Saharan African democratization decline in the second decade of the 21st Century since publication of The Postcolonial State. I will try to harvest some of that data on democratization and sub-Saharan African state political performance as a basis for stimulating reflection on the status of the state legitimization imperative. 


Dauda Abubakar 

In his theorization of the African postcolonial state, Crawford Young reminds us that although ethnic identities constitute a major source of violent conflicts; the state, nevertheless, remains a dominant force (the Bula Matari metaphor or ‘rock crusher’) in the social, economic and political landscape. While this perspective provides us with a framework for understanding the sources of violence and democratic deconsolidation in deeply divided African states, the Crawfordian framework, I contend, falls short of taking sectarianism and religious identity formation as a crucial lanes in unpacking the drivers of socio-political violence in African postcolonial states. Using Nigeria as a case study, this paper argues that the rise of sectarian/Salafist groups within Northern Nigeria’s religious market place, provides an important lanes for understanding the challenges of political violence and instability in postcolonial Africa. Specifically, I examine the emergence of Boko Haram and other radical salafist groups and the implications for enduring democratic order in Africa. I draw on empirical data from field work in Nigeria to support the arguments deployed in this paper.    

Timothy Longman 

In this paper, I will explore two of Crawford Young’s enduring interests – cultural pluralism and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Based on fieldwork conducted in the DRC in 2000, 2007, 2012, and 2020, I will seek to explain the increasing importance of ethnic and regional identities in Congolese politics over the last several decades. My analysis of identity politics will look beyond Eastern Congo, which has received extensive attention, to identity-based conflicts in areas like Kongo-Central, Maï-Ndombe, and Haut-Katanga. I will consider the significance of identity to the two Congo wars and to the ongoing challenges in the political system. I will also explore other aspects of identity in the DRC such as religion and gender. I will argue that Young’s concept of instrumentalism remains useful for understanding the salience of identity politics in the DRC. 

Thomas Turner 

Cultural Pluralism on the Copper Belt

My second stint of teaching and research in Congo/Zaire began in 1973, when Crawford Young recruited me to teach Political Science in the newly created Social Science faculty of the Mobutu’s National University of Zaire (UNAZA), along with Johannes Fabian (Anthropology) and David Gould (Public Administration). Fabian and I were housed in rented villas, side by side in Avenue Mpolo, on the edge of the former whites-only Ville. 

I pursued my research on the history and politics of the Tetela-Kusu of Sankuru and Maniema. As I had done in Kisangani (1969-1971), I bought paintings and sculptures from local artists but did not engage in research on the art. 

Just next door, in contrast, Fabian and his then-wife Ilona purchased more than 100 paintings by a young painter/street vendor, Tshibumba Kanda-Matulu. Fabian later recorded a series of dialogues in local (Katanga) Swahili in which Tshibumba commented on each painting. His book, Remembering the Present (California, 1996) presented those paintings and excerpts from the interviews.
According to Fabian, the 100 paintings discussed on tape were distinct from other paintings “for sale,” presumably including those purchased by Crawford Young and myself. As I will demonstrate, this distinction is invalid. Some of the taped interviews show Tshibumba discussing another painting than the one in front of him. 

Re-examining the whole process, decades later, I conclude that Fabian’s effort to “freeze” Tshibumba in time fails, leaving it unclear who is remembering whose present.  

Joshua B. Forrest 

Professor M. Crawford Young perceived, earlier than other scholars, the critical nature, for the success of state-building in culturally plural societies, of navigating through the variegated architecture of unstable polities and of crafting viable compromises between would-be ethnic actors and state agents.  He was among the first and would be among the most influential political scientists to emphasize the danger of privileging instrumentalist actors as part of the governing bureaucracy within a developing state, in India as in Nigeria and the DRC.  This would prove to be an insight that has been borne out tragically across the globe in recent decades.

We learned through the work of M.C. Young that historical context is essential, but is not determinative; the trajectory of cultural politics can change dramatically in a given situational instance, provided sufficient political instigation and instrumentalist provocation.    

Professor Young throughout his career emphasized the fluidity not only of ethnic mobilization but of cultural identity itself.  The notion of constructed identities that reflect political relationships has informed my understanding of post-colonial politics in much of Africa and contributed to my appreciation of the ways in which inter-ethnic sub-nationalist movements emerged in much of the continent.  This perspective has also influenced my recent work on local resistance to and defiance of state-imposed constrictions and interventions in various parts of the world.  

Cédric Jourde 

Reflecting on the politics of ethnicity in his 2012 Postcolonial State in Africa, Crawford Young wrote that “ethnic and territorial map of the continent do not overlap, yet the state system imposed bounded arenas within which active competition and cooperation occur” (p. 314) As a student of Young, it was a reflection akin to this one that led me to work, for my doctoral dissertation, on the politics of ethnicity in the borderland region of Fuuta Tooro, where the colonial and postcolonial boundary split the Pulaar-speaking community in two different polities, Mauritania and Senegal. Though Pulaar-speakers form a majority in Fuuta itself, they are a minority in both countries. But they face quite distinct dynamics of ethnic inclusion and exclusion, depending on which side of the border they are located. This touches upon another central preoccupation in Crawford Young’s research: democratization and authoritarianism. In Mauritania, since its inception, the state has been constructed upon solid authoritarian foundations. In Senegal, democratic institutions and practices are real, albeit imperfect. Building on Young’s interest in historical and contemporary analysis, or longue durée, this paper analyzes how the construction of two distinct states, and two distinct regime types, have transformed the meanings of ethnicity on both sides of the Mauritania-Senegal borderland over the last 60 years. This bifurcated trajectory may explain why, paradoxically, the Mauritanian side of Fuuta has become an incubator of democratic forces, whereas the Senegalese side has been mostly confined into a conservative phase.   


Virginia Sapiro 

Crawford Young included my essay, “Engendering Cultural Differences,” in his 1993 edited volume, The Rising Tide of Cultural Pluralism. It was remarkable to me that he invited this essay, because including work on gender was so rare. The index indicated that there may be 1 other mention of gender/ women in the book outside of Crawford’s and my essays.  And unlike most edited volumes that included a single chapter on women, he did not place this chapter near the end, but as the first chapter other than his own. My essay argued that it is not possible to understand the development and expression of cultural difference without attending to how culture is gendered. I would like to write an essay that follows up 30 years later on what has changed in scholarly frameworks about engendering culture and enculturing gender.

 Melinda Adams 

Cameroon’s 1996 constitution mandated a decentralized state and the establishment of local authorities with administrative and financial autonomy; however, the government did not follow through on these commitments until December 2019. In response to the Anglophone crisis, the government initiated limited decentralization, creating new regional councils and allowing for the indirect election of mayors in 15 cities. The first (indirect) elections for these new institutions were held in December 2020. 

This paper examines how the establishment of these new political institutions creates opportunities and/or barriers for women’s political representation. The new institutions are extremely male dominated. All newly selected presidents of regional councils (10) and mayors (15) are men. Under what conditions do crisis environments create openings for those historically excluded from political office? And under what conditions do they reinforce masculine political norms? 

The paper connects with several themes explored by Crawford Young, particularly the legacies of the colonial state and the ways that these legacies affect salient political identities in postcolonial Cameroon. 

The paper draws on a survey of Cameroonian politicians, government officials, and members of civil society to examine the gendered effects of economic and political crisis, particularly on these newly established regional and local political institutions.  

Gretchen Bauer 

Parliamentary primaries and general elections in Ayawaso West Wuogon, Ghana reveal lessons about the effort to attain greater representation and inclusion in Ghana’s parliament – and the many nuances that shape women’s access to participation in formal politics in Ghana, a country with one of the lowest representations of women in parliament in Africa and the world. What inspires women to run for political office? How have political parties sought to cultivate more women candidates (retained women’s seats, reduced filing fees) and what difference do incentives offered by political parties make? What methods are used to continue to keep women out of politics or sanction those who succeed? These questions are addressed in this chapter through profiles of three women aspirants, candidates and Members of Parliament from the Ayawaso West Wuogon constituency. A descriptive case study, this paper relies upon multiple methods of data collection, including unstructured interviews and analysis of documents, news reports and social media posts; it is presented in narrative form, reflecting a feminist turn to story-telling.  

Ladan Affi 

In May 2021, Somaliland, a breakaway and unrecognized region of Somalia, held its first parliamentary (since 2005) and local elections (since 2012) of one person, one vote unlike Somalia’s indirect vote. In Somaliland’s local election, out of 552 candidates, only 15 women ran representing 3% of the candidates. At the parliamentary level, out of 246 candidates contesting for the 82 seats of the lower house, only 13 women ran. When the results were announced, only three women had been elected at the municipal level, while no women were elected to the parliament. For women in Somaliland, the lack of gender quota provided a partial explanation for the failure of women to get elected.

Later this year, Somalia is also having federal elections and women have again been promised 30% gender quota and hope to increase from their current 24% representation to a more modest ambitious number that is harder to predict. Whether this will take place depends on whether women activists and women’s groups are able to ensure the implementation of the gender quota, women’s access to financial resources and several other factors. This paper will examine the reasons for the different outcome between Somaliland and Somalia. It will also examine the role and impact of women’s movements in pushing for women’s political participation. 


Joel Samoff 

As colonial rule shaped and constrained education in Africa, it provided a model and frame for education research. Expanding, desegregating, and modernizing education, independent Africa largely maintained its organization, objectives, and orientations. So too for education research. The persisting framing, increasingly mediated through the foreign aid relationship, has been pervasive and consequential.

I am concerned with the intersection of foreign aid, education research, and the education policy process in Africa. Education research has become enmeshed in the web of the foreign aid relationship. The analytic challenges are to understand how that has happened and how to confront it.

Earlier I explored the direct consequences of the funding link. Here, I am concerned with embedded ideas. The analytic prism is framing, the generally unstated context that shapes how research problems are posed and how they are addressed, and then how research is applied to public policy. Through that prism I explore forms of framing in education research in Africa and their consequences.
How is that framing institutionalized? African universities’ organization and reward systems play an important role. Globalized higher education and African universities’ attention to the comparative quality assessments make the academic disciplines and the high-status academic journals specifiers of research methods and arbiters of research quality. Method validates findings, in turn addressed to public policy. Since the specification of science and rigor are shaped by context (think Galileo), “quality” becomes a framing tool that functions to limit sharply divergent ideas, innovative approaches, and critiques.

There have of course been sharp challenges, among them Fanon, Memmi, Mudimbe, Depelchin, and Mbembe, and for research, Mkandawire and Zeleza. Still, the framing endures. Activist education organizations have also challenged these forms of framing in Africa, with some gains for schools but little support to scholars and research. Indeed, regularly, the framing that guides research shapes the understandings and politics of education activists.
This analysis highlights several challenges for critical African scholarship. The first is to recognize the dominant frame and to address it critically, even as those who provide research funding insist on it. The second is to cross disciplinary borders. The third is to create opportunities for research deviance. Developing alternative framing requires space for scholars to be contrarian, to challenge academic authority, to take the risks and consequences of deviance, and to proceed without significant foreign funding. Making that possible requires researchers to be much more self-reflective and much more self-critical. 

This book focuses on the hidden peoples of Uganda, an East African country that has been plagued by weak government, conflict, widespread civilian injuries and death since its independence in 1962. Although the focus of this book is on the East African country of Uganda, the concept of “hiddenness” is not unique to the African continent but can be seen in every corner of the globe from Asia, to the Middle East, Europe, the Caribbean and the Americas.  The Uganda case study can provide us with a better understanding of marginalization world-wide.

Hidden peoples are persons or groups of persons that have been relegated to the fringes of society.  They include people deliberately cast aside due to different physical, social, economic, religious, ethnic or linguistic status, characteristics or conditions. Hiddenness occurs in both war and peace though with different parameters. This definition includes people of all ages and genders who are located across the country. In Uganda we see individuals and groups of people become hidden because of disabilities, sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), deep poverty, and as a result of conflict-related violence perpetrated by both government actors and civilians (throughout Ugandan history and leadership/regimes). 

In Uganda, targeted social division carried out by leaders directly led to the ethnic dehumanization of many groups and set the stage for extreme violence. Our story centers on the brutality of the northern Uganda rebel group, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) conflict (1986-2008), the prior social conditions that caused it, and the hidden people who emerged out of it. This book casts light on the marginalization that defined Uganda prior to and throughout the civil war. 

Marginalization often passes through generations, as hidden peoples reproduce, their children often inherit the physical, mental or social conditions of their mothers and fathers. Hiddenness can also occur during childhood. Children born during captivity in war, often the product of rape, face an uphill battle that varies based on the condition of one’s sex and ethnic identity. These brand children with symbolic scars that serve as constant reminders of the heinous actions of their fathers. These “bush babies” are seen by some as nothing more than a weapon of war, waiting for a time when they too can take up arms to create a “better” life. Others, namely the mothers of abducted girls, fail to view these children as anything other than “the grandchild I hate to love.”

In Uganda, marginalization is cumulative.  Ugandans are excluded and subordinated for a variety of social, economic, and/or physical reasons. Over time it has created a host of human security issues. The condition of “hidden people” is worsened in conflicted societies such as Uganda, where pre-colonial and colonial conditions were further exacerbated by political, ethnic, and religious conflict. The social and political history of Uganda allows us to understand the nature of hiddenness and marginalization (including shunning).

The marginalized are often shamed and shunned as a result of their collective experiences and conditions. Although men, women, and children are all susceptible to marginalization, women and children are acutely vulnerable in times of civil war and identity-based conflict. The interconnectivity between physical and social status, disease, disability, and conflict-related violence further ostracizes hidden peoples from existing social norms, social systems, and access to justice. 

Statements about influence of Crawford on research 

Edmond J. Keller at the M. Crawford Young Symposium 2022

When I first arrived at UW-Madison in 1969 I wanted to pursue a Ph.D. in Urban Politics, particularly as that related to the African American experience. However, early in my studies I became fascinated with the possibility of a doctorate with an African Politics concentration. At the time, the field of African Studies was rapidly emerging, and the campus was blessed with several leaders in the field which included Crawford Young. Crawford was involved in ongoing research on African development policies, and just beginning to do work on Ideology and development. Originally, following the work that Crawford was involved in, I was to do a dissertation on the politics of agricultural development in Uganda. But, because of a political crisis in Uganda, I switched to a study of the political economy of education in Kenya. Not until I did a postdoc in Ethiopia in 1976-77, however, did I become most interested in not only the connection between ideology and development policies but also in the importance of identity politics in the new Ethiopia. Today, I am most identified with the study of ideology, and the political economy of development in Ethiopia as well as Africa in general. Throughout my career, Crawford Young has always been there for me, carefully reading and commenting on drafts of manuscripts of journal articles and even book manuscripts. He also introduced me to relevant theoretical perspectives that might be useful, and to major players in the African Studies academy. This was invaluable in helping my career. Most importantly, he was my irreplaceable mentor-friend.  

Georges Nzongola-Ntalaja 

My first encounter with Crawford Young’s scholarship was in reading his first major book, Politics in the Congo: Decolonization and Independence (1965). Having arrived in the United States only two years following this independence, I was really impressed by his analysis of the rise of nationalism in the Belgian Congo, together with its entanglement with ethnicity. Crawford initiated me in research on cultural pluralism when I served as his research assistant in the fall 1969 semester, during which I read the classics on precolonial and colonial Dahomey (now Benin), including works by Melville J. Herskovits, I.A. Akinjogbin, and Jacques Lombard. Five years later, when I was writing my Ph.D. dissertation in Madison and Crawford was in Lubumbashi as Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences at the National University of Zaire, he asked the University of Wisconsin Press to have me proofread the galleys for his outstanding book on ethnicity and politics in a comparative perspective, The Politics of Cultural Pluralism (1976). In addition to this having been a great honor for me, I did learn a lot from Crawford Young’s brilliant analysis of issues that took a long time to become part of the conversation worldwide, namely, identity and diversity.

It was from this foundation that I became interested in writing and publishing scholarly papers on the national question. One of my major articles on the subject was chosen in 1969 to be developed into a book-length publication for the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD). Unfortunately, I was unable to finish the book manuscript once I got involved in Congolese politics following the liberalization of April 24, 1990.  My proposed paper for the Young symposium will focus on a topic I developed as a keynote speaker in February 2011 at a conference of the Abuja-based Centre for Democracy and Development and the Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution, a federal government agency, on the theme of “Citizenship and Indigeneity Conflicts in Nigeria.”

Stephen Morrison 

Health in Africa today, the COVID crisis

LODGINGPhoto of the Graduate Hotel Madison

Below is the information for the Graduate Hotel Madison.

Reservation Link

General Hotel Website

Phone #: (608)257-4391

We have a block of 20 self-pay rooms on Thurs. 3/31, Fri., 4/1, and Sat., 4/2. The rate for these rooms is $189 per night. The name of the event on our contract is “African Studies – International Program.”

The venue for the event is Memorial Union (Old Madison and Tripp Commons).


For additional information on what to see and do while in Madison:


City of Madison parking areas 
University of Wisconsin–Madison parking areas

In connection with the event, and to honor Crawford’s memory, we are also launching the M. Crawford Young Fellowship in African Politics Fund. The purpose of the fund is to support graduate students who are doing original field research on African politics. We aim to sustain Crawford’s legacy of producing insights into African politics through his deep engagement with place-based fieldwork. The Fund will also help to insure that the legacy of excellent research in African politics at Wisconsin, a legacy that Crawford helped build, will continue. The Fund currently has a matching gift of $25,000, which means that any dollar you or a colleague would give would be matched dollar for dollar for up to $25,000. Thanks to generous gifts, the M. Crawford Young fund has raised $99,000 to date. You may contribute to the Fund here, or contact Scott Straus at any point.

In case you missed the ASA memorial of Crawford, watch it here.