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Land conflict biggest threat to peace as Uganda rebuilds

Research presented at American Sociological Society Annual MeetingR

August 20, 2012

As more than 1.8 million Ugandans return to their villages after being displaced due to civil war, conflict over land is the biggest threat to sustaining peace, according to a University of Minnesota researcher. 

Shannon Golden, who is pursuing a doctorate in sociology at the U of M, Twin Cities, conducted 90 in-depth interviews with people from different communities while spending one year living in Uganda, in a region where 94 percent of the population was displaced due to civil war. She spoke to residents as they returned to begin rebuilding their villages and as non-governmental organizations moved in to help. 

Her findings, presented during the American Sociological Association’s annual meeting Aug. 17-20 in Denver, concluded that in order for aid programs to succeed, day-to-day interaction by aid workers on the ground with those who are returning home after being displaced is paramount.

“Many residents say they can’t trust their neighbors, or the government, and that lack of trust often leads to violence and a disruption of peace,” said Golden. “The major takeaway is that policy makers, researchers and practitioners must understand that conflict over land has the potential to disrupt peace.” 

Uganda was a major focus of worldwide media attention earlier this year after U.S. charity Invisible Children released a video to raise awareness of crimes allegedly committed by former Ugandan leader Joseph Kony. The video instantly went viral and ignited a firestorm of support on social media, however, Kony still has not been caught.

Golden is available for interviews beginning Tuesday, Aug 21.

To schedule, please call Steve Henneberry, University News Service, 612-524-1690 or email 

More than 80 faculty members, PhD candidates and teaching assistants from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, Duluth and Rochester campuses attended the 107th annual meeting of the American Sociological Association (ASA). 

The four-day convention, which attracted more than 5,000 sociologists from around the world and had nearly 600 workshops, courses and presentations, concluded Monday in Denver. This year’s theme was “Real Utopia’s: Emancipatory Projects, Institutional Designs, Possible Futures.” 

U of M researchers had various roles throughout the meeting including: presenting research, organizing seminars, presiding over seminars and leading and participating in panel discussions. 

For more information on the ASA Annual Meeting, visit their event page,


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