International E-publication: Publish Projects, Dissertation, Theses, Books, Souvenir, Conference Proceeding with ISBN.  International E-Bulletin: Information/News regarding: Academics and Research

The Relevance of the Theory of Primordialism to the Evolution of Acholi Ethnic Identity in Northern Uganda

Author Affiliations

  • 1 Department of History in Gulu University, Northern UGANDA

Int. Res. J. Social Sci., Volume 3, Issue (4), Pages 8-11, April,14 (2014)


This article discusses the relevance of the theory of primordialism to the rise of Acholi ethnic identity in northern Uganda. Ethnicity is a term of two broad theoretical categories namely primordialism and constructivism. Each of the two has several sub-theories. Modern historians have tended to ignore primordialism in preference for new concepts like instrumentalism, cultural determinism, historicism and regionalism. Using fieldwork conducted among the Acholi and analysis of secondary data from different writers, the author contends that the theory of primordialism is relevant to the rise and metamorphosis of Acholi ethnic identity. He argues that many of the authors who have criticized Clifford Geertz’s primordialism have only been able to use the different varieties of primordialism under different names.


  1. Olatunji, Pius, Cyril-Mary. The we verses them in Nigeria: rethinking traditional epistemologies”. Inkanyiso, Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences3(2), 122-130 (2011)
  2. Rukooko A.B., Understanding Ethnicity, the Case of Ankole, Uganda: An Aristotelian Approach. Ph.D. thesis, Department of Philosophy, Makerere University (1998)
  3. Langlands B.W., The Population Geography of Acholi District. Kampala: Makerere University College Library, Occasional paper number 30 (1971)
  4. Green Elliott D., Ethnicity and Nationhood in Pre-colonial Africa: The case of Buganda, Nationalism and Ethnic Politics, 16(1), 1-28 (2010)
  5. Lucien, Upper Nile Out with an Acholi Hunt, African Affairs, 45(181), 178-184 (1946)
  6. Atkinson R.R., The Roots of Ethnicity: The Origins of the Acholi of Uganda, Kampala: Fountain Publishers (1994)
  7. Atkinson R.R., State formation and language change in westernmost Acholi in the eighteenth century, in Ahmed Idha Salim (ed.). State Formation in Eastern Africa. Nairobi: Heinemann Educational Books (1984)
  8. Fishman Joshua A., Who Speaks what Language to Whom and When? La Linguistique, 1(2), 67-88 (1965)
  9. Fishman Joshua A., Ethnicity as Being, Doing and Knowing”, in Hutchinson, J and Smith, A. (Eds). Ethnicity. Oxford: Oxford University Press (1996)