The human body is itself a politically inscribed entity, its physiology and morphology shaped by histories and practices of containment and control. Susan Bordo (1993: 21)
I view law(s) as an authorized discourse — as a language constituted by a series of symbols that is located in not merely the realm of the ‘ideal’ or the ‘real’ but a place somewhere in between… as an authorized language of the state. Zillah Eisenstein (1988: 4, 20)
Where there is power, there is resistance. Michel Foucault (1978: 1)
I Introduction: “Reading” the Political Body
Naked protests may seem like the most unlikely topic imaginable for a professorial inaugural lecture in law. But, as you well know, the law touches on literally every aspect of our day-to-day lives. Secondly, it is quite surprising that, even though such protests have taken place at many different times and places in African history, there is very little historical, anthropological or sociological analysis of the phenomenon, especially with respect to the case of Uganda. As academics, we have left comment to the journalists, the political pundits and the radio talk-show hosts and hostesses. Finally, although approaching this topic from the perspective of the law, there is no doubt of its resonance across the intellectual landscape.
Allow me to begin with the story that inspired my choice of topic. Around 8:15 on the morning of Monday, April 18, 2016, I was just leaving home to go to work when my cell phone rang. On the line was a friend whose words sounded frantic and desperate: “Sylvia, you’re the nearest one; you’ve got to help… Oh my god! It’s on Facebook… Stella has stripped naked at MISR!”