"Look What the Bride Has Got On!": A Visual Discourse Analysis of Uganda's Wedding Industry
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Uganda's leading newspaper, New Vision, showcases images of men and women dressed in crisp tuxedos and white wedding dresses proclaiming their "eternal love" for one another alongside advice columns on how to create the perfect wedding. Exploring images of the wedding industry in Uganda has important political implications through which one can analyze the ways that conceptions of femininity and gender are constructed and perpetuated within the space of the newspaper. Due to Uganda's neoliberal reforms of the past thirty years, a growing middle class has emerged along with an increase in the consumption of luxury goods and services. The white wedding has been and is increasingly a space for middle class Ugandans to highlight their wealth through luxurious venues, extravagant cakes, and designer dresses and tuxedos. As such, it is intimately tied to neoliberal shifts and a state-sponsored quest for capitalist growth. My research focuses on images of the Ugandan wedding industry, including advertisements and advice columns in New Vision, storefronts, fashion shows, and the Bride & Groom Expo in Kampala. Drawing on Rose (2001), I conduct a visual discourse analysis on these images to analyze what and who appears in these images, how the subjects of the images are positioned/represented, and what is absent from the images. Furthermore, I ask what the form and nature of this growing industry is and what ideals of race, class, gender and sexuality are embodied in the bodies of featured brides.