Mahmood Mamdani

Mahmood Mamdani is the director of the Institute of Social Research at Makerere University and also teaches at Columbia.

The African University

Mahmood Mamdani, 19 July 2018

It​ is striking, in the postcolonial era, how little the modern African university has to do with African institutions. It draws its inspiration from the colonial period and takes as its model the discipline based, gated community that maintained a distinction between clearly defined groups: administrators, academics and fee-paying students. The origins of this arrangement lay in...

The Logic of Nuremberg: Nuremberg’s Logic

Mahmood Mamdani, 7 November 2013

In March, General Bosco Ntaganda, the ‘Terminator’, former chief of military operations for the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC), wanted for war crimes and crimes against humanity, voluntarily surrendered himself at the US embassy in Kigali and was flown to the headquarters of the International Criminal Court at The Hague. The chargesheet included accusations of murder, rape,...

What is a tribe?

Mahmood Mamdani, 13 September 2012

A new form of colonialism was born in the second half of the 19th century, largely in response to the Indian Mutiny of 1857. Of its many theorists by far the most influential was Henry Maine, a brilliant historian of jurisprudence, barrister, journalist, colonial civil servant and eventually master of Trinity Hall, Cambridge. Maine made an eloquent case for the historicity and agency of the...

Short Cuts: Protest in Uganda

Mahmood Mamdani, 16 June 2011

The events identified with Tahrir Square have resonated in sub-Saharan Africa, and suggested a new way of doing politics: politics without recourse to arms. This has bewildered officialdom and sometimes sent a chill running down its spine. Uganda is a good example: Tahrir Square has enabled us to understand a new form of protest we call ‘walk to work’. The immediate background to...

For the institutions that claim to represent ‘the international community’ – the Western press, international NGOs and UN agencies – the armed conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo has been a paradigm of senseless violence. The number of casualties is indeed staggering. In 2001, the New-York-based International Rescue Committee started providing estimates of...

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