Surviving as Entrepreneurs: Contemporary Ugandan Art and the Era of Neoliberal Reform


African Humanities Program Postdoctoral Fellowships


Industrial Art and Applied Design


Since 1989 Uganda has embraced neoliberal reforms which have informed cultural discourses in sub-Saharan Africa. The study examines ways in which these reforms have shaped contemporary art in Uganda to broaden the available knowledge on the relationship between the Structural Adjustment Program (SAP) and contemporary African art. Using historiography and the social theory of art, the research interrogates the proposition that, although neoliberal reforms erode formal art institutions, they do not exactly prevent an alternative cultural discourse from evolving and re-directing the making, meaning and function of art. In fact they seem to stimulate it. To examine this proposition, the study looks beyond the narrow confines of Uganda’s formal art institutions, which are collapsing as a result of the SAP, to analyse the issues which seem to have motivated new art brokerages to emerge, survive and expand the margins of contemporary art in the region.