25 Years

Partnership with University of the Western Cape

Signing an MOU with University of the Western CapeICGC houses the University of Minnesota's graduate education and faculty research collaboration with the University of the Western Cape in South Africa. The initiative involves graduate student and faculty exchanges, co-taught courses between the campuses using web and ITV technologies, and has the goal of further developing other networks among institutions in the global south. The partnership is supported in part by funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the partner universities.

ICGC and the Centre for Humanities Research at UWC formalized a partnership in graduate education and faculty research through an MOU put in place during a visit to UWC by former Senior Vice President Robert Jones and ICGC Director Karen Brown, pictured here with UWC colleagues Rector Brian O’Connell; Deputy Vice Chancellor Academic Ramesh Bharuthram; Dean, Faculty of Arts Duncan Brown; and Deputy Dean, Faculty of Arts, and Director, Centre for Humanities Research Premesh Lalu.

Through the partnership between ICGC and the Centre for Humanities Research (directed by Professor Premesh Lalu, an ICGC alumnus) at the University of the Western Cape, our collaborative graduate education and faculty research initiative offers faculty and student exchanges; graduate student fellowships; and joint research projects, workshops, conferences and courses. Current activities include an ongoing faculty and doctoral fellow exchange program with faculty and students from each institution spending time conducting research and engaging with students and faculty on the partner campus for periods of two to six months.

In the next phase of the partnership, our work will also focus on teaching, the arts in an interdisciplinary context, and the support of exceptional and diverse graduate fellows and faculty. These activities will support the objectives of both partner institutions to provide more pedagogical training and experience to graduate fellows and, at ICGC, to more fully integrate humanities and arts across its interdisciplinary curriculum.



Past Visiting Research Mellon Chairs

ICGC hosted Leslie Witz, Professor of History at the University of the Western Cape, as the University of the Western Cape Mellon Research Chair during the period 2014 - 2015. He joined University of Minnesota Research Chair Helena Pohlandt-McCormick who was in residence at UWC during spring and summer of 2014 working to foster collaborative initiatives including the July 2014 Winter School. Professor Pohlandt-McCormick continues to work closely with a number of UWC graduate fellows and participants in joint research and teaching plans.

The Research Chair contributed a critical element of our ongoing collaboration in graduate education and research with the Centre for Humanities Research at the University of the Western Cape (UWC). Since 2006, the ICGC and the CHR have been involved in an ongoing research project on altering the relations of knowledge exchange between universities in the north and the south, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

The Mellon Research Chair was charged with deepening the existing collaboration. As Mellon Research Chair from UWC, Professor Witz played a leadership role in fostering interdisciplinary intellectual exchange between the partners and spent one semester at the University of Minnesota and the other at UWC. During his semester at Minnesota, he taught an interdisciplinary graduate seminar and offered a public lecture.


Akoth, Steve


August, Tyrone

Visiting Scholar 

Visiting Scholar from the University of the Western Cape

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Tyrone is a doctoral student at the University of the Western Cape's Department of English and a fellow at the university's Centre for Humanities Research. His previous degrees include: * a Bachelor of Social Science, majoring in sociology and psychology, from the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban; * an Honours degree in sociology from the University of South Africa; and * a Master of Arts degree in history, politics and literature from the Institute of Commonwealth Studies and the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London.

He previously worked as a journalist on several daily and weekly newspapers as well as various monthly magazines in Johannesburg and Cape Town. His most recent position was editor of the Cape Town daily newspaper, the "Cape Times". He still writes a weekly column for the newspaper and is also currently a judge for the annual Standard Bank Sikuvile Journalism Awards, which recognizes distinguished journalism in the print media.

Brown , Duncan


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Duncan Brown is the Dean of the Faculty of Arts at the University of the Western Cape. 

Campbell, Kurt

Visiting Scholar 

Visiting Scholar from the University of the Western Cape

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As a practicing artist and academic, Kurt is a multidisciplinarian. His artwork is represented in national and international collections. He has published on aspects of visual cultue, most recently in the European Journal of English Studies and Musiques et Cultures Digitales. His current research is based on the textual ideation of a blind Cape Town born boxing champion from the early 1900's. Kurt holds degrees from Stellenbosch University and the University of Cape Town. His PhD research is based at the Center for Humanities Research at the University of the Western Cape. www.kurt-campbell.com

Daki , Ncedile


Visiting Artist

Erasmus, Aidan

Visiting Scholar 

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Aidan Erasmus is currently pursuing a PhD in History and is based at the Department of History and the Centre for Humanities Research at the University of the Western Cape. His M.A. examined the permutations of race alongside the development of the local rock music scene in South Africa from the 1960s through to the present. Interested in questions of sound after apartheid, music and its repercussions, and postcolonial reverberations, his doctoral project seeks to think war through sound in an attempt to make war audible, and is concerned with the ways in which history might be thought of as resonant. He is also the host of a programme on South African music called ‘The Shortwave’ on the Wrong Rock Show on Bush Radio 89.5 FM, a local community radio station in Cape Town.

Frieslaar, Geraldine

Visiting Scholar 

Geraldine is a practicing archivist at the UWC Robben Island Mayibuye Archives and doctoral fellow at the Centre for Humanities Research based at the University of the Western Cape (UWC), South Africa. For her Ph.D research she is exploring the biography and the history of the archive by focusing on the making of the International Defense and Aid Fund (IDAF) as an archival collection. She holds a Masters degree from UWC and a BA Honours degree from the University of Stellenbosch.

Highman , Kate


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Kate Highman recently completed an Andrew W. Mellon postdoctoral fellowship at the Centre for Humanities Research (CHR), University of the Western Cape (UWC), on 'The Disciplinary Forces of English Literature: Aesthetic Education at Historically Black Universities'.  This formed part of a larger research project on the history and politics of English literature as a university discipline in South Africa that she is continuing to work on while a visiting scholar at the Interdisciplinary Center for the Study of Global Change. Prior to joining the CHR she was a postdoctoral research fellow in the UWC English Department, working on debates about plagiarism, copyright and cultural ownership in South African letters. This research built on her doctoral thesis, 'Forging a New South Africa: Plagiarism and the National Imaginary', completed at the University of York (UK).  In 2018 she will begin work on a collaborative project on ‘Writers’ Organisations and Free Expression’, as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Oxford. 

Visiting Term: Fall 2017

Kabwete, Charles


Layne, Valmont


Email Valmont

I was born in District Six, Cape Town and grew up on the Cape Flats in the 1970s. My formative journey to adulthood is contained in this historical frame – the triumphant years of Grand Apartheid, the destruction of black urban neighbourhoods, the bannings and repression and the rise of a radical new generation in 1976.


For me, the critique of inequality under Apartheid took a decidedly cultural one – being frogmarched to the segregated Nico Malan Theatre Centre (now Artscape) as a primary school child brought home to me the possibility of acting against cultural apartheid.  In my extended family constellation one finds a cast of farmworkers, factory workers, and teachers. As a young boy, I realised I had a singular talent for reading, writing, and music – and kept vivid memories of the sights, sounds and characters as the cosmopolitan life in District gave way to monoculture dormitory townships in Bontheheuwel, Parkwood, and Hanover Park. 


I became part of the radicalised youth of the Cape Flats, quickly finding a political angle to my musical longings, and discovering black South African urban music – jazz, soul, mbaqanga, carnival - and its insistence on securing a place for all South Africans in its cities – something Apartheid would deny. 


I became a young university student, musician and member of cultural movements during the 1970s and 1980s. I encountered absences and continuities and a world of creative possibilities through reading and through listening to music and through gradually rejecting the SABC’s attempts to mould my auditory landscape – sometimes against the grain of my own poorly formed aesthetic and audible sensibility. Other absences were triggered –notably that of jazz in the vernacular idiom as my young ears attuned to an aesthetic sensibility that lay beyond the black American music to which I aspired as a teenager. I started to realise this in an aesthetically loaded gesture even at the tender age.


I started a lifelong lesson in the enabling possibilities that came into play when vernacular sensibility was given expression in a creative encounter with new global cultural expression. Crucially, the question would grow into a concern with the vernacular as a category of agency from which people could assert by vocalising and visualising – seeking an integration of the everyday and the extraordinary, the vernacular and the festive/ carnivalesque.


I completed an MA Thesis on the history of jazz and dance band music in postwar South Africa – in the process combining political economy and cultural critique.


It should come as no surprise, then, that I ended up working as a Sound Archivist at the District Six Museum, a harbinger of a new museum practice, pro poor in its orientation, throwing away the museum ‘textbook’ and conceiving of the museum as a place of community development, advocating for land restitution and social justice in Cape Town. I spent a decade developing a dialogue with colleagues and scholars in a new Museum practice that would revitalise the notion of the museum – at a time when the turn towards the ‘living museum’, it turned out, was a global one and not confined to the new South Africa.


In fact, this search for a new relevance affects every cultural institution. In the late 2000s, I worked for a major national arts festival where an analogous set of challenges came to the fore – this time about a relevant festival practice that could transcend the limitations of race that all institutions inherit from the recent past. It is a question which bedevils debates about institutional transformation, but it is at the heart of the question of the post apartheid – how to transcend apartheid at a fine grain, working not with grand narratives, but with everyday practice building institutions of public culture? 


Visiting Term: Fall 2017

Maduma , Thozama


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Thozama Maduma is a Senior Lecturer at the Centre for Humanities Research (CHR) at the University of the Western Cape. She holds a PhD, MA, and B.A. Honors - all in History from the UWC. She writes on Women and Feminist Historiography with a dissertation titled ‘Theorising Women: The life of Charlotte Maxeke’. She is currently working on the broad historiography of colonialism in the Eastern Cape and on de-colonial and nationalist thought.She has worked and taught in various educational institutes in South Africa.  She has published two books and presented at many conferences and seminars around her work. Most recently she was moderator of a conference at the annual ICGC/CHR/Fort Hare Winter School in South Africa.


Visiting Term: Fall 2017

Moodley, Therona

Visiting Scholar 

Visiting Scholar from the University of the Western Cape

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Therona is a Ph.D. Fellow at the University of Fort Hare (South Africa). She is exploring the concept of the disorderly woman in Indian cinema. She holds a Masters from the University of Minnesota. Her undergraduate degree was completed at the University of Natal (South Africa) with majors in English and Drama. She was also a lecturer in the Department of English at the University of South Africa where she developed courses on visual culture and film.

Mpofu , Siphokazi


Visiting Artist

Nefdt, Ryan

Visiting Scholar 

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Ryan Nefdt completed his PhD at the Joint programme in Philosophy at the Universities\ of St Andrews and Stirling in the UK. There, he was a member of the Arché Research Centrefor the study of Logic, Language and Epistemology.
His research interests lie at the intersection of the philosophy of language, science, and theoretical linguistics. He is also interested in issues of linguistic injustice, the philosophy of race and African philosophy more generally.
He has previously studied at the Institute for Logic, Language and Computation at the University of Amsterdam, the Department of Philosophy at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and the Department of Philosophy at the University of Cape Town. He has also conducted research at Yale University, the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Leeds.

Ryan is in residence with ICGC November 2018 – January 2019.




Ngodlwana, Luyanda


Visiting Artist

Nwafor , Okechukwu


Okechukwu is a PhD student at the Department of History and PSHA Doctoral fellow  at the Centre for Humanities Research, University of the Western Cape,  Cape Town, South Africa. He holds BA (Fine and Applied Arts) of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka and MFA (Fine Arts) of the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Anambra State, Nigeria. He studied Post graduate Diploma in Museum and Heritage Studies in the Department of History and Centre for Humanities Research, University of the Western Cape, graduating in Cum Laude.  He has been an active member of the Pan African Circle of Artists since 2000. He has participated in both the Insaka International Artists Workshop in Zambia and The Politics of Culture Workshop in Graz, Austria. He is presently engaged with the archival and ethnographic research of the Visual Culture of Lagos with major concentration on the intersections of popular photography and the practice of what is known as aso ebi in urban Lagos and how this practice has given impetus to the dress culture of the city and also the emergence of what is known as ‘fashion’ magazines in Lagos.  He has also written a number of essays on the Visual Arts of Nigeria.

Pillay , Suren


Suren Pillay is currently Senior Researcher and Associate Professor in the Centre for Humanities Research. He has held this position since 2010. From 2007-2010 he was seconded to the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) of South Africa as a Senior Research Specialist in the Democracy and Governance Programme. From 2003-2004 he served as a Programme Officer at the Centre for African Studies at Columbia University. He held a position of senior lecturer in the Dept. of Political Studies, UWC, from 1995-2010. Prof. Pillay holds an Mphil, and a Phd in Anthropology with distinction, from Columbia University in New York (2011). He also has a Masters (cum laude) in Development Studies from the University of the Western Cape (UWC).


While at the HSRC, Pillay led a research team on violence. The team initiated projects, developed funding proposals, and established international research networks, with an emphasis on the global South. In 2008 he helped co-ordinate a team of researchers from the HSRC in response to the xenophobic violence which broke out in South Africa. He currently plays an active role in the Centre for Humanities Research: in 2011 he served as Acting Director of the CHR during the sabbatical year of its director. Pillay also served as Editor of the journal Social Dynamics, published by Centre for African Studies, University of Cape Town (UCT) between 2009 and 2012. He has published extensively in the press, including the Mail and Guardian, Cape Times, Ugandan Monitor, Jerusalem Post, and Al Jazeera international online. His awards include a prestigious Wenner-Gren Foundation Dissertation Award for Anthropological Research, a CHOICE Award from the American Publishers Association for Outstanding Book title (2011), and a Special Mention for authoring one of the ten most downloaded articles in African Studies by the African Studies Association (USA) in 2010.

Pillay, Miranda


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Miranda Pillay is senior lecturer in New Testament Studies and Ethics at the University of the Western Cape.

She is also the coordinator of the UWC Chapter of Circle of Concerned African Women Theologians.The Circle (as it is known) encourages women of faith to write about their lived-experiences and to seek alternative ways of interpreting their faiths, Scriptures and cultures – that are liberative to women and men.

Pinto de Almeida, Fernanda


Fernanda Pinto de Almeida is an Early Career Researcher at the Centre for Humanities Research and a PhD candidate at the Department of History at the University of the Western Cape. Her research maps Cape Town's landscape of cinemas in the twentieth century, exploring the relations between cinema-going, aesthetics and inhabiting urban space. Approaching the neighbourhood bioscope as medium of particular kinds of politics, public imagination and racial subjectivities, this project aims to understand how the spatialisation of aesthetics was central to the project of the modernising city before and during Apartheid. 

Rassool , Ciraj


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Ciraj Rassool directs UWC’s African Programme in Museum and Heritage Studies, managed in partnership with Robben Island Museum. He is a trustee and of the District Six Museum and the South African History Archive. He is also a councillor of Iziko Museums of Cape Town and previously served on the councils of the South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA) and the National Heritage Council. He has been a member of the Archaeology, Palaeontology, Meteorites, Heritage Objects and Burial Sites Permit Committee of SAHRA, and also serves on its Artworks Advisory Panel. Most recently he was appointed to the Human Remains Repatriation Advisory Committee of the Department of Arts and Culture. 

He has written widely on public history, visual history and resistance historiography and has published in the Journal of African History, the Journal of Southern African Studies, Cahiers d’etudes Africaines, African Studies, South African Review of Sociology and Kronos: Southern African Histories. 

Shingwedha, Vilho


Truscott, Ross


van Bever Donker, Maurits


Maurits van Bever Donker’s current book project is titled Texturing Difference: Black Consciousness Philosophy and the Script of Man. He reads black consciousness as constituting a philosophical intervention that draws on and re-works the projects of figures such as Frantz Fanon and Aimé Césaire, so as to set to work on the limit of the philosophical and political constructions of man that order the world after Europe. Other current research projects include a book project on the concept of desire as this structures the post-apartheid, in conjunction with Ross Truscott and Premesh Lalu, as well as work on contemplation as a practice unfolding at the rough edge of what Deleuze calls “de-territorialisation”. More broadly van Bever Donker works at the intersection of postcolonial theory, critical theory, political theory and literature.

Van der Rede, Lauren

Visiting Scholar 

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Lauren Van Der Rede has grown up in beautiful Cape Town, South Africa, where she has also had the privilege of studying at the University of the Western Cape (UWC). She is currently based in the English Department of UWC and the Centre for Humanities Research (UWC), where she is an A.W. Mellon Fellow. With a focus on Africa, she studies the relationship between violence, psychoanalysis, trauma and the literary. Her Master’s thesis examined representations of the African child in select contemporary films, arguing that the African child is often represented as a liminal, ambiguous, and often paradoxical figure, through which the selected films are able to, at least to some extent, transcend Afropessimism. For the purposes of her Doctoral research project she is looking at select instances of genocide and genocidal violence in Africa, their post-traumatic effects and their literary representations, in the hope of contributing to psychoanalytic theory through the development of a new concept.

van Laun, Bianca


Bianca van Laun completed her Bachelor of Arts at the University of the Western Cape (UWC), Cape Town, in 2008 which she graduated Suma Cum Laude. She then went on to do her Honours degree in History (UWC) for which she investigated the role of the youth in the Rwandan genocide in 1994 and argued for a reassessment of the use of the concept youth especially in terms of those involved in violence. She graduated Cum Laude. Bianca completed her Masters thesis in History at UWC in 2012. The project dealt with questions of violence and historiography in relation to a Poqo uprising in the town of Paarl, South Africa, in 1962.  Bianca published an article titled “Of bodies captured: the visual representation of the Paarl march and Poqo in apartheid South Africa” in Social Dynamics journal, March 2014. Bianca is currently registered as a doctoral candidate at the UWC. Her thesis is interested in the bureaucratic apparatus surrounding the application of capital punishment in South Africa particularly during the 1960s. She is also a lecturer in the history department at the University of the Western Cape.

Van Wyk , Stewart


Weintroub Hooper , Jill


Witz, Leslie


Leslie Witz was the ICGC Mellon Research Chair in residence in 2014. He is a professor in the History Department at the University of the Western Cape in Cape Town, South Africa. His major research centres around how different histories are created and represented in the public domain through memorials, museums and festivals and tourism. He has published extensively in all these fields. His book, Apartheid’s Festival: Contesting South Africa’s National Pasts, (Indiana University Press, 2003) examines how white settler pasts were produced, sustained and opposed in the second half of the twentieth century. His most recent book, co-authored with Noëleen Murray, Hostels, homes, museum: Memorialsing migrant labour pasts in Lwandle, South Africa (UCT Press, 2014) tracks museum making in a community that was meant to be invisible labour compound under apartheid. The book explores how, through employing strategies of orality and visuality, and by rehabilitating a migrant labour hostel, community histories were made by the museum in Lwandle. He has also written two books for popular audiences: Write Your Own History (1988) and How to Write Essays, (1990). At undergraduate level Leslie teaches the first year course on precolonial African history. He teaches at postgraduate level on issues in museum and heritage studies and public history and tourism. Leslie is the chair of the Board of the Lwandle Migrant Labour Museum and is on the board of the Human Rights Media Centre. He is presently working on a book on how the category of history has changed in selected South African museums. Over the years Leslie has worked closely with colleagues from UWC and the University of Fort Hare, Ciraj Rassool and Gary Minkley, and they are publishing a book that reflects on public history in South Africa since the 1990s. With Jung Ran Forte and Paolo Israel he is also bringing out a collection of papers from the South African Contemporary History and Humanities Seminar at the University of the Western Cape entitled Out of History.

Xakaza, Mdududzi



Casarino, Cesare


Desai, Jigna


Duvall, Raymond


Nagar, Richa

Teaching Faculty 

Pohlandt-McCormick, Helena


Mellon Research Chair

Professor Pohlandt-McCormick served as the Mellon Research Chair from the University of Minnesota in our partnership with the Centre for Humanities Research at University of the Western Cape from 2013-14.  As Research Chair, she worked to advance collaborative research activities across the two centers.  Her research interests include:  South African history; African & comparative women’s history; memory, oral history, life histories/autobiography; methodology; post-colonial theory; pre-colonial Africa; and the history of exile.

Scheman, Naomi


Sugnet, Charles



Nelson Mandela Memorial Event