Patrick W. Otim

Associate Professor of History



Pettengill Hall, Room 111



A.B., Makerere University
M.A., University of Notre Dame
M.A., University of Wisconsin-Madison
Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison

I am an historian of Africa, with special interest in East Africa. I recently completed my Ph.D. in African History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (August 2016).

My current research project is a revision of my dissertation, “Forgotten Voices of the Transition: Precolonial Intellectuals and the Colonial State in Northern Uganda, 1850-1950,” into a book manuscript. More specifically, the project is an intellectual history of the Acholi of northern Uganda. The work draws on a rich body of vernacular literature, including colonial state archives in Uganda and England and oral history interviews in Uganda. On the broadest level, the book will explore the lives of overlooked Acholi leaders, whom I call pre-colonial intellectuals, as they transitioned from the pre-colonial to the colonial eras. It will highlight the contributions of this generation of intellectuals, which included royal messengers, healers and military generals, to the missionary and colonial enterprises in northern Uganda. I am especially interested in the knowledge, skills and capabilities that this generation of intellectuals deployed in the service of European institutions. This work hopes to expand discussions about the contributions of African ideas, values, and institutions to the shaping of European colonial projects as well as introduce debates and struggles that emerged within Acholi societies that resulted from the implementation of colonial rule, but which are rarely found in European documents.

My teaching interests include African intellectual history, Christianity and Islam, race and ethnicity, health and healing, and transitional justice, especially local approaches to conflict resolutions. As a teacher of African History and African Studies, my most important goal is to help students come away with a deeper understanding of the complexities of historical and contemporary Africa, confront the myths and misconceptions about Africa, and become stronger thinkers and better writers.

Classes Taught

  • History of East Africa
  • Disease, Health, and Healing in African History
  • African History to 1800

Current Courses

Fall Semester 2023

HIST 287
History of East Africa

South Africa: The Rise and Fall of Apartheid

HIST 457
Senior Thesis

Winter Semester 2024

AFR 105 / HIST 105
Africa: Special Topics in African History, 1500-1900

AFR 360
Independent Study

AFR 360
Independent Study

HIST 399
Historical Methods