ABSTRACT

Not all African borderlands that have experienced contracted conflict have an abundance of the kind of natural resources we find in areas such as Eastern Congo and the Mano River Basin (e.g. Liberia and Sierra Leone), or constitute an important route for informal and illicit trade such as Northern Mali and the Sahel. In the Acholi-region of Northern Uganda there are few, if any really valuable natural resources and this area is not a major route for trade and commerce either. Still this borderland experienced a protracted conflict that lasted from the end of the civil war in Uganda in 1986 until the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) left the country to seek sanctuary in the stateless borderland in-between Southern Sudan, DRC and the Central African Republic (CAR) after the peace talks in Juba collapsed in 2006/7. This chapter will revisit this war and show how the production of perceptions about alienation, marginality and the existential uncertainty in a borderland such as this can sustain a conflict where the spoils of war are as few as the alternatives to conflict. However, this chapter will also show that even if the war produced few if any valuable benefits for the LRA, under the ‘shadow of the war’ well-connected Ugandan army personnel and businessmen were able to carve out small business ‘empires’ that they otherwise would not have had the same access to, thus suggesting that a highly asymmetrical conflict such as this offers certain extractive opportunities to those with access to state power, whereas the real victims of the conflict were confined to the prison-like structure of the IDP camps (see also Bøås and Bjørkhaug 2014).