Neil Kodesh

Position title: Professor of History


Phone: 608.263.2395

Office: 5115 Mosse Humanities
Mailbox: 5023 Mosse Humanities
Office Hours: Tuesdays 12:00-2:00pm, virtual or in person. Appointment required via Calendly.

Neil Kodesh


I’m a historian of East Africa with a particular emphasis on the Great Lakes region. My research and teaching interests center on medical history, historical anthropology, and multidisciplinary methodologies for writing African history. My first book, Beyond the Royal Gaze: Clanship and Public Healing in Buganda, examined how the domains of politics and public healing were intimately entwined in Buganda, a kingdom located on the northwest shores of Lake Victoria in present-day Uganda, from the sixteenth through the early nineteenth centuries. The book won the Melville Herskovits Prize of the African Studies Association.

I am currently working on two projects. The first is an historical ethnography of Mengo Hospital, the first hospital established in present-day Uganda. The second – Mapping Hot Spots: ‘One Health’ and the History of Infectious Disease Research in Africa – is part of a collaborative research cluster with Tony Goldberg (Pathobiological Sciences) and Josh Garoon(Community and Environmental Sociology). This project emerged from an earlier collaboration with Claire Wendland (Anthropology) and Pablo Gomez (Medical History) that created a program to expand graduate-level teaching and the development of research partnerships on the theme of “Health, Healing, and Science in Africa.” The program culminated with an international conference on “Big Stories and Close (Up) Research: Health and Science in the African World.”


Ph.D., Northwestern University
M.A., Northwestern University
B.A., Pomona College


Selected Publications

  • “Networks of Knowledge: Clanship and Collective Well-Being in Buganda,” The Journal of African History 49, 2 (July 2008): 197-216.
  • “History from the Healer’s Shrine: Genre, Historical Imagination, and Early Ganda History,” Comparative Studies in Society and History, 49, 3 (July 2007): 527-552.
  • “Renovating Tradition: The Discourse of Succession in Colonial Buganda,” The International Journal of African Historical Studies, 34:3 (2001), 511-542.

Advisor To

History Courses

  • History 277 – Africa: An Introductory Survey
  • History 283 – Intermediate Honors Seminar: Health, Healing, and Science in Africa
  • History 377 – History of Africa 1500-1875
  • History 444 – History of East Africa
  • History 600 – The New South Africa: The Challenges of Transition in a Post-Apartheid World
  • History 600 – Race and Ethnicity in 20th-Century Africa
  • History 751 – Proseminar in African History
  • History/Anthropology 774 –  Methods for Research in Non-Literate Societies
  • History 861 – Health Medicine and Healing in Africa
  • History 861 – History of Health and Healing in Africa
  • History 861 – History of South Africa
  • History 983 – Health, Disease, and Healing in Africa