Michael Whyte

Michael Whyte

Lektor emeritus


  • born in New York, N.Y., USA, 25 May 1941
  • married, two children, 4 grandchildren
  • Danish resident since 1972

Education & Employment

1963   AB cum laude Harvard University

1967   MA (Anthropology) University of Washington

1974   PhD (Anthropology) University of Washington

         dissertation title: The Ideology of Descent in Bunyole


1972-76        Assistant Professor, Dept of Anthropology, U of Copenhagen

1976- 2011    Associate Professor, Dept of Anthropology, U of Copenhagen

2011-           Associate Professor emeritus, Dept of Anthropology, U of Copenhagen

2011-           External Lecturer, Dept of Culture and Society, Aarhus University


  • Makerere Institute for Social Research, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda (1979-1971, 1990-94)
  • Child Health and Development Centre, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda (1994-2008
  • Department of History, University of Nairobi, Nairobi, Kenya (1978-9)
  • Institute of Commonwealth Studies, Queen Elizabeth House, Oxford University (Visiting Fellow: 1986)
  • Hampshire College, Amherst, Massachusetts, U.S.A. (Visiting Scholar: 1992)

Research Cooperation in Uganda

  • Governing Transition in Northern Uganda: Trust and Land (Danida), collaboration with Institute for Peace and Strategic Studies, Gulu University, 2013-ongoing
  • Building Stronger Universities (DANIDA), support to Gulu University, 2010-13, 2014-ongoing
  • Changing Human Security Project (ENRECA/Danida) focus on recovery from Armed Conflict in Northern Uganda and research capacity enhancement, Gulu University 2009-2013
  • TORCH Project (ENRECA/Danida) focus on interactions between communities and health systems in Uganda and research capacity enhancement, Makerere University, 1994-2008

Recent Research  

  • Vocabularies of land in Acholiland, 2014-
  • Human Security in Northern Uganda. ENRECA collaboration with Gulu University (2009-13)
  • Cultural rationality and economic behaviour: agricultural change, food security and development in eastern Uganda 
  • HAART treatment in Uganda: local, national and global implications 

Other Projects and Research (selected)

  • Cultural organization and kinship behaviour: Bunyole County, Eastern Uganda, 1969-71. Specific inquiries were made into the peasant economy (local agricultural practices, the cotton-plus-subsistence economy, the structure and extent of economic specialization) and the broader social and cultural system (neighbourhood and political organization, kinship ideas and practices, the ritual cycle of funerals).
  • Labour migration, family structure and marriage patterns: Marachi Location, Western Kenya, 1978-9. (Jointly with Susan Reynolds Whyte) Major foci: the effects of labour migration on patterns of polygyny, marriage stability, bridewealth exchanges, household and descent group organization and the relative positions of men and women; changes in local communities over a longer historical period, and in response to particularly Kenyan economic priorities
  • Project leader: AIDS education and counselling in Lesotho: an action anthropology project. (1990-92 with support from DANIDA and Danchurchaid).  A programme of cooperation conceived of as an exercise in ‘advocacy anthropology’ - enabling research carried out (1) at the locus of intervention, (2) by the project personnel themselves, (3) drawing on their own cultural knowledge as Basotho. Our programme emphasized qualitative data collected and analysed by AEU staff, and also sought to provide more formal communication skills, including the construction and use of simple databases.
  • Literacy and Development in Bunyole. (1987-1995). In 1987 Lunyole, the language of the Banyole of Eastern Uganda, was handwritten by Banyole who have learned to read and write English or Luganda, but there were essentially no books or published texts available. I was encouraged by the Lunyole Language Committee to begin to compile a Lunyole-English Word List, based on language research notes from 1969-71, as part of a movement towards greater cultural - and economic - autonomy. The work was published in Uganda in 1994 (Ebibono by'Olunyole n'Olusungu  Olungeresa/Lunyole-English and English-Lunyole Word Lists. Michael Whyte and Ehibbubbu hy'Olulimi Olunyole, P.O. Box 930, Tororo, Uganda). It has inspired local development of teaching materials, local book publication and, ultimately, a full Lunyole dictionary 


  • Regional: Africa & East Africa
  • Thematic: Introduction to Anthropology, Anthropology of Food, Applied Anthropology, Methodology and Comparison, Anthropology of Development, Anthropology and the Environment, Kinship and Marriage
  • Supervision of 13 doctoral dissertations since 1994.



ID: 3965