A northern Uganda reading list

I am often asked for recommended reading on the war in northern Uganda. The literature is vast, but a few works on culture, politics and history stand out.

For history and analysis of the war, this ACORD volume presents the evolution of the war (and previous attempts at peace) from the perspective of numerous Ugandans. Also very good is the background material in this report by Tim Allen.

This report from the Refugee Law Project (RLP) at Makerere University provides another fine analysis of the causes of violence in Uganda. Check out the RLP website for dozens of contributions on displacement and war in Uganda. Its director, Chris Dolan, has written extensively about Uganda, but only a few of his works (like this one) seem to be online.

Some excellent books are also available. Heike Behrend’s account of Alice Lakwena, a spiritual and rebel precusor to Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army, is a must read. Sverker Finnstrom’s account of life under displacement is also excellent. The more time I spend in northern Uganda, the more insightful I find his writing.

I will save a full listing of the human rights, NGO and other gray literature for another time. But my own reports and work on Uganda (with Jeannie Annan, Dyan Mazurana, and Khristopher Carlson) are available on the Survey of War Affected Youth website.

For Acholi cosmology and traditional forms of coping and healing, five authors, including my friend and colleague Ron Atkinson, recently collaborated on an excellent short book on the subject.

Erin Baines has also been working with Acholi religious leaders on processes of community truth-telling in Acholiland as well as traditional processes of justice and reconciliation.

On less traditional forms of justice, Tim Allen has a short book on the International Criminal Court’s intervention in Uganda. He makes a convincing case for a more formal system of justice and accountability. Adam Branch also has very provocative views on the ICC in Uganda.

Intelligent political analysis of the Lord’s Resistance Army is scarce, but a few notable contributions exist (in addition to Allen’s and Finnstrom’s contributions above). For instance, some excellent papers on the logic of LRA violence and organization have been by Doom and Vlassenroot, van Acker, and Branch.

Mareike Schomerus has recently written about the LRA in Sudan. Mareike has had unprecedented access to the LRA in recent years, but unfortunately most of her work has yet to be published. Look for early warnings on this blog, as her work is bound to be interesting.

Tim Allen and Koen Vlassenroot are also editing a book on the LRA, with contributions from many of the authors mentioned above. Drafts may be available later this year. My own chapter (with my wife, Jeannie Annan) is here. We focus on the nature and logic of LRA child recruitment.

For current news and updates on the war, peace talks, and regional security, the Uganda Conflict Action Network and Resolve Uganda blogs are good sources of daily information. Both offer RSS news feeds.

Finally, one of my collaborators, Nathan Fiala, has scanned and posted resources for learning the Acholi language.

As I said, this list is only partial, and omits a number of topics and authors. If there are any special requests (e.g. gender, displacement, economic activities, etc.) please leave a comment.

The picture above, by the way, is from a book of powerful children’s drawings published by AVSI and other NGOs called Where is My Home? Unfortunately I’ve not seen a link online.

10 thoughts on “A northern Uganda reading list

  1. Hi Chris – you and your blog readers may be interested in Matthew Green’s new book, out this month, called “The Wizard of the Nile – the hunt for Africa’s most wanted”, published by Portobello Books in London and available on amazon. Matt was a correspondent for Reuters in Nairobi, and is now the Financial Times’ guy in Lagos. I’ve not read the book, but it’s getting good reviews. Best, Mike Pflanz (Daily Telegraph correspondent based in Nairobi).

  2. I’ve heard it is not bad, and even started it myself, but typically put down anything with a “Heart of Darkness” theme. It’s old, it’s terribly eurocentric, and (if I were African) probably insulting as well.

    Maybe I ought to give the book another chance, but there’s too much good stuff out there to spend time on one man’s journey up the river to find the crazed beast.

  3. I have two (older, but not out-dated) suggestions for your northern Uganda reading list:

    For her honest reflection of her role as both a human rights advocate and researcher: Ehrenreich, Rosa (1998). “Ugandan Children and the LRA: The Stories We Must Tell” Africa Today 45 (1)

    For understanding the context of the conflict: Bøås, Morten (2004): “Uganda in the Regional War Zone: Meta-Narratives Past and Present”. Journal of Contemporary African Studies 22.

    Very interesting blog and work!

  4. Chris,

    Thanks for an excellent list. I’d also recommend “Aboke Girls: Children Abducted in Northern Uganda” by Els De Temmerman for a more visceral/immediate reading experience. Though the writing is a little rough, the story is focused and powerful.

  5. Northern Ugandas war is a hell in this world. 20 years is not enough, still Museven declares to win this war, Crazzy!!!!!!

    A book gives a wide attention to the world community to intanvene the conflikt. Museven is a play boy in this problem.


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  9. Hi,
    I’m interested in the picture book “Where is my home”. Does anybody know where I can order it online?