£23.99 | $42.95

8 July 2010
ISBN: 9781848135635
368 pages
216 x 138mm

Human Rights

Also available as Hardback, Ebook

The Lord's Resistance Army

Myth and Reality

Edited by Tim Allen and Koen Vlassenroot

The Lord's Resistance Army is Africa’s most persistent and notorious 'terrorist' group. Led by the mysterious Joseph Kony, it has committed a series of horrific human rights abuses, including massacres and mutilations. Since the mid 1980s, it has abducted tens of thousands of people, including large numbers of children forced to train as fighters. The IC in 2005 issued warrants for Kony and his top commanders, and the United States is backing a military campaign against the group. But the LRA survives, continuing to inspire both fascination and fear.

Authoritative but provocative, The Lord’s Resistance Army provides the most comprehensive analysis of the group available. From the roots of the violence to the oppressive responses of the Ugandan government and the failures of the international community, this collection looks at this most brutal of conflicts in fascinating depth, and includes a remarkable first-hand interview with Kony himself.


'For those interested in a critical alternative to the official line from the ICC, this is a collection to read. It brings together a range of scholars, bright and bold, from within and outside the continent, joined by a shared commitment to a future for Africa beyond crime and punishment.' - Mahmood Mamdani, author of Saviours and Survivors: Darfur, Politics and the War on Terror

'The atrocities by the LRA left behind a legacy which will not die. This book gives the true account about the war, with no stone left untouched.' - Adrawa Lawrence Dulu, Programme Coordinator, African Development and Peace Initiative (ADPI)

'Why bad things happen in Africa. ... there are no excuses for Joseph Kony and his bestial 'Christianity', but there are reasons for it rooted in the politics and history of Uganda and its neighbours. This book goes beyond the simplistic media stereotypes to provide the best analysis yet of how these child-abusers continue to defy international justice.' - Geoffrey Robertson QC, author of Crimes Against Humanity: The Struggle for Global Justice

'This book will be essential reading for anyone interested in the conflict in Uganda and in "terror" more generally.' - David Keen, LSE, author of Complex Emergencies

'While it has become cliché claim that any book is "essential" or "required" reading on a given subject, in this case the praise is more than fitting. One could not desire a more comprehensive, wide-ranging yet coherent, deeply informed discussion of the Lord's Resistance Army than the one Allen and Vlassenroot have put together. Covering such a diverse range of topics as the ethnic and spiritual aspects of the LRA and data about abductees to the failed Juba peace process and the International Criminal Court prosecution to transcripts of interviews with Joseph Kony himself, there is not a single chapter in this volume that does not advance our understanding of the LRA in important and significant ways. This book should also be held up as a template for how an edited volume should be put together to provide a wide-range spectrum of intellectual engagement on complex conflicts, in Africa and elsewhere. In the end, this volume is more than "essential" and "required". It is utterly brilliant.' - Kevin Dunn, Assistant Professor, Hobart & William Smith Colleges, Geneva, NY, author of Imagining the Congo: The International Relations of Identity.

'This masterful, long-awaited and much-needed book transcends political agendas and uninformed stereotyping to present an astute and balanced analysis of the Lord's Resistance Army. The skilful assembling of expertise and insight from the key analysts of the LRA into a single publication makes this an essential read for researchers, practitioners, and students seeking to understand the LRA.' - Nana Poku, University of Bradford, co-author of Development and Human Security

'The conflict in northern Uganda has seemingly defied coherent explanation for the past two decades, yet in this insightful, compelling and compassionate book we at last have a definitive work on the strange phenomena that is the Lord's Resistance Army. Every essay here is contributes to our understanding of the political and social forces that have created and sustained Joseph Kony and his followers. If ever a group of international writers have provided an 'insider's account' of an African struggle, then this is surely it.' - David Anderson, University of Oxford, author of Histories of the Hanged: Britain’s Dirty War in Kenya and the End of Empire

'A fascinating and revealing collection' - Harry Johnstone, Times Literary Supplement

Table of Contents

Introduction - Tim Allen and Koen Vlassenroot 
Part One: Interpretations of Uganda's war in the north
1. Exploring the Roots of LRA Violence: Political Crisis and Ethnic Politics in Acholiland - Adam Branch
2. Uganda's politics of foreign aid and violent conflict: The political uses of the LRA rebellion - Andrew Mwenda
3. The Spiritual Order of the LRA - Kristof Titeca
4. An African hell of colonial imagination? The Lord's Resistance Army/Movement in Uganda, another story - Sverker Finnström
Part Two: Experiencing the LRA
5. Chasing the Kony Story - Mareike Schomerus
6. 'A terrorist is not a person like me' - an interview with Joseph Kony - Mareike Schomerus
7. On the nature and causes of LRA abduction: What the abductees say - Christopher Blattman and Jeannie Annan
8. Between two worlds: former LRA soldiers in northern Uganda - Ben Mergelsberg
9. Encountering Kony: A Madi perspective - Ronald Iya
Part Three: Peace and justice
10. Northern Ugandan: a 'forgotten conflict', again? The impact of the internationalization of the resolution process - Sandrine Perrot
11. The Role of the Government of the South Sudan in Peace Talks to End the War in Northern Uganda - Ronald R. Atkinson
12. NGO involvement in the Juba peace talk: the role and dilemmas of IKV Pax Christi - Simon Simonse, Willemijn Verkoren, Gerd Junne
13. Bitter Roots: the 'invention' of Acholi traditional justice - Tim Allen
14. The ICC Investigation of the Lord's Resistance Army: An Insider's View - Matthew Brubacher
Postscript: a kind of peace and an exported war - Tim Allen, Frederick Laker, Holly Porter and Mareike Schomerus
Bibliography - Notes on the Contributors

About the Authors:

Tim Allen is Professor in Development Anthropology at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He has carried out long-term field research in Sudan and Uganda, and has also researched in several other African countries, including Ghana, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Tanzania and Botswana. His publications include the best selling textbook, Poverty and Development (edited with Alan Thomas, Oxford University Press), as well as books on ethnic conflict in Europe, media coverage of wars, links between culture and development issues, and mass forced displacement in Africa. Recent articles include work on press censorship in war affected states, and on health issues in Africa (notably parasitic diseases and HIV/AIDS). In 2005 he directed a six month study on the experiences of people who have been abducted by the Lord's Resistance Army in Uganda. That research has been published by USAID and UNICEF (Tim Allen and Mareike Schomerus, A Hard Homecoming, Washington, 2006. He latest books have been Trial Justice: The International Criminal Court and the Lord's Resistance Army (Zed Books, 2006), and Complex emergencies and Humanitarian Responses (co-authored with Mareike Schomerus, London University, 2009). In addition to academic work, he has worked as a consultant with numerous international organisations, including UNDP, UNICEF, UNRISD, MSF, LWF, Save the Children, World Vision and DFID. He is also a broadcaster and has presented or contributed to numerous radio programmes for the Open University and the BBC.

Koen Vlassenroot is a Professor of Political Science at the University of Ghent, where he also coordinates the Conflict Research Group. He is also the Director of the Central Africa Programme of Egmont, the Royal Institute for International Relations in Brussels. He has carried out research in the Great Lakes Region for more than 10 years, with a particular focus on militia formation, land issues, transborder dynamics and rebel governance in eastern DR Congo and Northern Uganda. He has published widely in international peer reviewed journals and has written numerous book chapters.