Professor Richard Reid

History of Modern Uganda

A History of Modern Uganda (Cambridge University Press, 2017)

This book is the first major study in several decades to consider Uganda as a nation, from its precolonial roots to the present day. Here, Richard J. Reid examines the political, economic, and social history of Uganda, providing a unique and wide-ranging examination of its turbulent and dynamic past for all those studying Uganda's place in African history and African politics. Reid identifies and examines key points of rupture and transition in Uganda's history, emphasising dramatic political and social change in the precolonial era, especially during the nineteenth century, and he also examines the continuing repercussions of these developments in the colonial and postcolonial periods. By considering the ways in which historical culture and consciousness has been ever present - in political discourse, art and literature, and social relationships - Reid defines the true extent of Uganda's viable national history.

  • Warfare and militarism in Africa in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, particularly East and Northeast Africa
  • Historical culture, emotion and memory in modern Africa, particularly East and Northeast Africa
  • The relationship between Africa and Europe during the ‘long’ nineteenth century

My current research is concerned with histories of war in modern Africa, and has two main strands.  The first focuses on the ways in which war leads to distinctive, often markedly emotional, forms of historical culture, and how it influences both public history and more private understandings of the past. My case study is the war between Eritrea and Ethiopia (1998-2000), which in some ways was the outcome of distinctive cultures of violence, militarism, and historical consciousness, but which has also served to underpin those cultures.  I am especially interested in how history is organized and ‘packaged’ as the result of prolonged trauma, including at the level of national history, and I have recently undertaken work on Uganda with that in view.

Secondly, and related to this, I am interested in how the ‘precolonial’ is perceived and understood in modern Africa, especially given the negative connotations often attached to precolonial violence by modern political and economic elites. This is particularly fascinating given that at least some of those elites are themselves the products of violence and its long-term aftermath in the postcolonial era.

The third strand of my work involves a re-examination of the relationship between Africa and Europe during the long nineteenth century. The culmination of that relationship, famously, was the so-called ‘scramble for Africa’, between the 1870s and the 1910s, and I am in the process of revisiting that formative ‘moment’ in the histories of both continents. But I am equally interested in the ways in which political, economic, and military upheavals in both continents during the nineteenth century were closely intertwined. Ultimately, I am seeking to understand Africa’s revolutions during that era in a more global context.

  • Mourning and Glory: Toward Affective Histories of Violence in Africa over la Longue Durée

  • A History of Modern Uganda

  • Elite bargains and political deals project: Ethiopian-Eritrean case study

  • States of Anxiety: History and Nation in Modern Africa

  • Writing Eritrea: History and Representation in a Bad Neighborhood

  • More

I am interested in supervising any viable topic related to nineteenth- and twentieth-century Africa, but I am especially keen to hear from potential students interested in the history and memory of violence. 

I currently teach:

Prelims: FHS: Masters
European & World History 11 (1750-1930) FS23 Imperialism & Nationalism 1830-1980 Global & Imperial History MSt
    Themes and Concepts
    Warfare and the Military in African History


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