Governing through News
: Ugandan newspapers, sexual minorities and the Anti-Homosexuality Act 2014

  • Michael Ashworth

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)


In this thesis, I seek to account for the emergence of the Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Act 2014 (AHA), a law which in Bill-form called for the death penalty for serial offenders of the newly created offence of ‘homosexuality’. However, I do so by turning away from the formal channels of law and law-making, focussing instead on the news media. Drawing on a Foucauldian governmentality framework, I suggest that the AHA was a particular manifestation of broader governmental assemblage which took homosexuality as its target and sought to manage it out of existence. Just as law is one sphere through which governmental power can be exercised, so too, is the news media. Newspapers are therefore reconceptualised as technologies of government, through which particular rationalities, logics or strategies of power are realised. As such, I identify three interrelated means by which Ugandan newspapers were implicated in the government of sexual minorities in the years leading up to the AHA: first, through the slow constitution of homosexuality as a multi-headed problem of increasing urgency; second, by circulating disgust towards homosexuality through its repeated association with objects commonly regarded as disgusting; and third, by disseminating a spectacular performance of resistance by sexual minority human rights activists, which galvanised and incited opposition to homosexuality.
Date of Award25 Jun 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Bristol
SupervisorDavid S Cowan (Supervisor) & Lois S Bibbings (Supervisor)

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