Makerere Institute of Social Research
Makerere Institute of Social Research (MISR) was established in 1948 as the East African Institute of Social and Economic Research, serving several countries in East Africa. It became MISR in 1970 and is affiliated with Makerere University, Uganda’s largest public university.
Established as more or less the research arm of the colonial state, MISR was led by illustrious anthropologists (Audrey I. Richards, Lloyd Fallers) who saw themselves as giving voice to « native peoples » inside an otherwise hostile colonial establishment. On the morrow of independence, MISR was fortunate to be steered by young nationalist scholars (Ali Mazrui, Victor Uchendu, Yash Tandon) who saw themselves both as pioneers of an emancipatory nationalist scholarship and as critics of nationalism’s anti-liberal tendencies, especially when these tended to undermine the autonomy of the scholar. When the times were difficult, MISR found prudent directors (Samwiri Karugire, Dan Mudoola) who understood that the most important goal under the circumstances may be survival. When MISR and Makerere came under severe pressure from those who shelter under the banner of « market forces, » MISR found a director (Nakanyike Musisi) who endeavored to turn the situation to institutional advantage.
Today, MISR takes a critical look at how it has been shaped by this legacy, in particular the impact of « market forces » over the past decade. In the face of a growing and pervasive culture of consultancy, MISR recommits itself to its original vocation, social research. In the interest of that joint endeavour and shared reflection, we hope to bring to life a buzz of activities, from internet discussions to printed materials, ranging from working papers to workshops, journals to books. Using methods from the unconventional to the orthodox, we hope to create a market place of ideas, an arena of debate.