Migrations, Dissonance and Unsettled History:  The Case of the Kenya Luo

Author(s): Paul J Lane

Year: 2013


A common feature of many of the indigenous oral traditions documented by the first generation of historians of pre-colonial Africa is the emphasis they place on the migration of different distinctly bounded ethnic groups, or ‘tribes’, from an idealised homeland. Most archaeological approaches to the use of oral and linguistic data such as these, have simply tried to use oral traditions of migration as literal guides to the likely location of settlements associated with different phases of an ethno-linguistic diaspora. This paper aims to offer an alternative approach and understanding of Luo oral history, based on the concept of ‘un-settlement’ – from three perspectives: history is as much about moving on as about settling down; dissonance between sources means this history is always ‘unsettled’ (i.e. unresolved); and in its telling and in its enactment history can be unsettling, i.e. emotionally or psychologically disturbing, making its construction and reproduction a political act.

Cite this Record

Migrations, Dissonance and Unsettled History:  The Case of the Kenya Luo. Paul J Lane. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Leicester, England, U.K. 2013 ( tDAR id: 428419)


Temporal Keywords
15th-19th century AD

Spatial Coverage

min long: -8.158; min lat: 49.955 ; max long: 1.749; max lat: 60.722 ;

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 564