Head of Department
BiographyHeike is a social and cultural anthropologist. Her research and writing explore the intersection of culture and postcolonial politics with a focus on social identities (ethnicity, gender, ‘race’ and nationalism), memory cultures, popular culture, and social movements. Her work in the field of popular culture ranges across film, photography, music, and digital technologies. She recently directed research projects on Aesthetics, Politics and Diversity — studying connections between popular culture, performance, belonging and citizenship in contemporary South Africa, and elsewhere on the African continent — together with local and international colleagues and postgraduate students.
Heike completed her PhD at Bremen University, Germany, in 1993 with a dissertation on women in the Namibian liberation struggle. After three decades of ethnographic research in southern Africa Heike is currently conducting research on decolonisation and anti-racist politics in Germany and the United Kingdom.
She is the author of Namibian Women’s Movement, 1980 to 1992: From Anti-colonial Resistance to Reconstruction, and editor of several edited collections. She is currently completing a monograph on nationalism and memories of the Namibian liberation war. She has also published widely in local and international academic journals such as Africa, Journal of Southern African Studies, American Anthropologist, Anthropology Southern Africa, Visual Anthropology, Periphery, Social Dynamics, and the Canadian Journal of African Studies. She is a regular contributor to blogs and other online and print publications, and her writing surpasses ethnography, history, and journalism, cutting across fiction and non-fiction.
- Becker, H. 2018. “‘Global 1968’ on the African continent.” FocaalBlog, 9 February. www.focaalblog.com/2018/02/09heike-becker-global-1968-on-the-african-continent.
- Becker, H., and D. Schulz (Eds.) 2017. “Un/making Difference through Performance and Mediation in Contemporary Africa.” Special Issue of Journal of African Cultural Studies 29 (2).
- Becker, H. 2015. ‘How We See Our Culture’: Photographic self-representations from the Cape Flats, South Africa. Visual Anthropology 28(5): 373-397.
- Becker, H. 2012. “Anthropology and the Study of Popular Culture: A Perspective from the southern tip of Africa.” Review of African Literatures 43(4): 17-37.
- Becker, H. 2011. “Commemorating heroes in Windhoek and Eenhana: memory, culture and nationalism in Namibia, 1990-2010.” Africa. Journal of the International African Institute 81(4): 519-43.
- Becker, H., E. Boonzaier, and J. Owen. 2005. “Fieldwork in shared spaces: positionality, power and ethics of citizen anthropologists in southern Africa.” Anthropology Southern Africa 28(3&4): 123-132.
- Becker, H. 1995. Namibian Women’s Movement 1980 to 1992. From Anticolonial Struggle to Reconstruction. Frankfurt (Germany): IKO-Verlag für interkulturelle Kommunikation.
- Becker, H. (2020); Writing Genocide: Fiction, Biography and Oral History of the German Colonial Genocide in Namibia, 1904-1908, Matatu 50 (dated 2018; published February 2020): 361-395.
- Becker, H. (2018): Changing Urbanscapes: Colonial and postcolonial monuments in Windhoek, Nordic Journal of African Studies, 27(1), 1-21.
William is a lecturer in Anthropology at UWC. He teaches courses in Economic Anthropology, Anthropological Theory, and the Anthropology of Africa. His Economic Anthropology course focuses on the link between religion and economy and explores works by Georges Bataille, Marcel Mauss and Marshall Sahlins on the gift and questions the market through the work of Karl Polanyi.
His courses also explore the well-known debates in social sciences such as the dialectic of the master and the slave, Marx’s labour theory of value, Lewis’ culture of poverty and the economic value of human life. His postgraduate theory course teaches the history of anthropology, the ontological turn and the ethnography of the ‘more-than-human’. He maintains strong interests in Khoisan studies, indigeneity and is passionate about researching the human plant interface.
William has done extensive fieldwork among the San people in the southern Kalahari. The main thrust of his fieldwork there was land reform, natural resources management and the intersections with culture. Currently, he is working on several projects in the Northern Cape that aim to examine knowledge connections and plant ontologies. These projects have focused on various plant practitioners, and the current phase is a collaboration with the herders in Leliefontein. Additionally, he has a keen interest in the Afrofuturist movement and science fiction in Africa.
Jung Ran Annachiara is an anthropologist and joined the Department of Anthropology and Sociology in 2014. She completed her PhD in Social Anthropology at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris in 2007. Her research is located at the intersections of the study of ‘traditional’ African religions and subjectivity. In her doctoral dissertation, Chevauchés par les dieux. Initiations des Occidentaux aux cultes Vodun béninois: pratiques culturelles et trajectoires identitaires, grounded on extensive fieldwork in the Republic of Benin, West Africa, she explored the dynamics of change of a traditional religion.
Historically characterised by a striking extraversion and flexibility, Vodun cults have travelled, adapted, and transformed across time and space, creatively reinventing their traditions, generating new meanings and redefining regimes of practice, both locally and globally. Recently, in collaboration with Leslie Witz and Paolo Israel, Annachiara published an edited volume that charts new trends in South African historiography through a series of essays from the early 1990s to the present. In the Department, she teaches classes on rituals, beliefs, traditional practices, gender and kinship, and popular culture.
Kelly is a political and legal anthropologist with a research focus on criminal justice in South Africa, particularly concerned with how criminal justice has become a vector for the continuation of apartheid relations. She joined the UWC Anthropology Department in 2018. Before UWC, she worked in the Department of Anthropology at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) for a decade, serving as the head from 2015-2017. She completed her PhD at the University of Chicago in 2007 with a dissertation on South African prisons.
Kelly writes and teaches about law and justice, urbanism, sexualities, race, and the praxis of social justice. In 2008, she cofounded the Johannesburg Workshop in Theory and Criticism (JWTC), an experimental project tasked with recrafting the work of critical theory beyond the Global North. She has been involved in work on the decolonisation of the university in South Africa, supporting student movement activism and disciplinary/curriculum reconstruction. She also works beyond the university in popular education projects, supporting a broad range of social justice formations.
Sakhumzi is an Associate Professor at UWC with a background in Medical Anthropology. He received his PhD from Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research (WISER) in 2010. His research areas of specialisation are gender, masculinities, medical anthropology, men’s health, and social theory. Before joining UWC in 2010, he researched social and behavioural aspects of HIV and Health for the Perinatal HIV Research Unit (2001-2002); Human Sciences Research (2002-2005) and Centre for AIDS, Development and Research and Evaluation (2009-2010). His current research focuses on developing African-centred theories of masculinity.
Hameedah is a PhD Anthropology candidate and lecturer at UWC. Her research interests include practices of medicine, health, and healing. In particular, she has an interest in the relationships between diseases, technology and spaces of treatment and management for chronic medical conditions. Her PhD research focuses on Metabolic Syndrome (MetS) with an emphasis on medical knowledge systems (both clinical and ethnobotanical) in South Africa. This research project is motivated by biocultural narratives of both clinical and plant medicine practices within and beyond anthropology.
Her fieldwork explores walking ethnography and the rethinking of anthropological analyses for diseases. She has also collaborated in formulating clinical guidelines for Primary Health Care (PHC) practices through the NRF at Stellenbosch University. At present, Hameedah is part of an International Development Research Centre (IDRC) project titled Promoting inclusive policies and approaches to address youth networks of gang violence in South Africa. The project provides insight to safety, policy, and youth gang violence in the areas of Manenberg, Gugulethu and Nyanga East in Cape Town. Working in Manenberg, her research involves rewriting narratives of place-making and resilience amidst gang violence through the lenses of female youth.
Administrative StaffMrs Melissa Moti
Position: Sociology Administrative Officer
Qualifications: BA, BA (Hons), MA (Western Cape)