West Nile is best known as the home of Uganda's notoriously violent dictator, Idi Amin. But the area's association with violence goes back much further, through the colonial era, when the district was significantly under-developed in comparison with mostof Uganda, and to a pre-colonial past characterised by slave-raiding and ivory poaching.
Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork and archival research in the district capital, Arua town, during the late 1990s, when a low intensity conflict between the government and local rebels became embroiled in wars spilling over from nearby borders with Sudan and Zaire. The author adopts the unconventional approach of moving backwards from the present through successive layers of the past, developing an anthropological critique of the forms of historical representation and their relationship with the human realities of war and violence, in a border area which has long suffered the consequences of being portrayed as a 'heart of darkness'.
The book contributes to current debates in political anthropology on issues such as border areas, the local state, and the nature of the 'post-colonial'. It will also be of interest to historians, political scientists, literary and cultural critics, and others working on questions of violence, narrative and memory.
Uganda: Fountain Publishers
Series editors: Wendy James & N.J. Allen
Mark Leopold is Lecturer in Anthropology at Goldsmiths College, University of London
'Why are we cursed?' an introduction - '"Arua" means "prison"': violence & ethnography at the end of the twentieth century - Amin, West Nile & the postcolony, (1995-1962) - Drawing a margin: West Nile under colonial rule, (1961-1925) - 'Rather a difficult tribe to tame': the invention of an uprising & the creation of a colonial district, (1924-1914) - Imperial encounters: the Lado Enclave & the birth of the Nubi, (1913-c.1850) - Lifting the curse: writing history & making peace - Violence, history & representation: an afterword - Bibliography