Call for Papers - Beyond Resettlement Exploring the History of the Ugandan Asian Community in Exile

Shezan Muhammedi Discussion

September 28, 2022, marks the 50th anniversary of the first group of Ugandan Asian refugees to arrive in Canada after being expelled from Uganda by Idi Amin. This was Canada’s first major resettlement of non-European and largely non-Christian refugees in the postwar period. To consolidate power in Uganda, after leading a military coup in 1971, Idi Amin accused 80,000 Ugandans of South Asian descent of economic sabotage and a failure to integrate socially. He subsequently announced on August 4, 1972, that they would have 90 days to leave the country or face dire consequences. Canada’s rapid response to the expulsion order led to the resettlement of nearly 7,500 Ugandan Asian refugees between 1972 and 1974. 

In commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the expulsion of Asians from Uganda the conference Beyond Resettlement: Exploring the History of the Ugandan Asian Community in Exile will explore the historical context of the expulsion, Canada’s response and reception of a large number of these refugees, the larger diaspora of Ugandan Asian refugees, and the lived experiences of the community in Canada over the past 50 years. The conference aims yield several lessons on pathways to integration, memory, and identity.

The conference will take place at Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario in November 2022. Carleton hosts the Uganda Collection in the Carleton Archives and Special Collections which features a collection of oral histories, newspaper clippings from the 1970s on the expulsion and reception, a log book of arrivals to Canadian Forces Military Base Longue Pointe, and an interactive map of where Ugandan Asian refugees were resettled in Canada. The conference is anticipated to also feature a series of workshops including a global café on intergenerational identities and belonging in Canada, screenings of documentaries on Ugandan Asian refugees, and a roundtable discussion with refugee novelists.

The aim of the conference is to yield insights on the Ugandan Asian experience in Africa, Canada and elsewhere in the diaspora and to consider the nature of being a racialized refugee community in 1970s Canada and beyond. With this framework, the conference intends to broaden understandings of the refugee resettlement experience in Canada and will therefore be of interest to scholars, policymakers and various refugee and migrant communities.

We are inviting paper proposals from academics, students, community-based scholars, independent scholars, and members from the Ugandan Asian refugee community. Proposals should address one of the themes of the conference:

  • Routes/Roots in East Africa: Life in East Africa and Interrogating the Colonial Sandwich
  • The Expulsion Order and A Warm Welcome? (Re)Settling and Early Experiences of Life in Canada among East African Asians 
  • Investigating the Legacy: Understanding the Ugandan Asian Refugee Resettlement Initiative, Impacts, and Further Migration from East Africa
  • Home and Homeland: Explorations of Transnationalism amongst the Ugandan Asian Refugee Diaspora in Canada and Beyond

We also welcome proposals on related topics.

Please complete the online submission form by October 1, 2021: We are planning to submit an application for a SSHRC Connections grant. We will contact you by November 15th with a response to your submission.

If you have any questions or need any assistance, please contact Dr. Shezan Muhammedi

Uganda 50 Conference Committee

Conference Committee Co-Chair Shezan Muhammedi (Adjunct Research Professor – Carleton University)

Conference Committee Co-Chair Heather Leroux (Archives & Special Collections Coordinator – Carleton University)

Member Laura Madokoro (Associate Professor – Carleton University)

Member Karim H. Karim (Chancellor's Professor – Carleton University)

Member Chris Trainor (Head, Archives & Special Collections – Carleton University)

Member Michael Molloy (Adjunct Professor – Carleton University)

Member Christina Clark-Kazak (Associate Professor – University of Ottawa)

Member James Casteel (Associate Professor – Carleton University)

Member Blair Rutherford (Professor – Carleton University)

Member Zulfikar Hirji (Associate Professor – York University)