Welcome to the Anthropology Department
Welcome to the University of the Western Cape


We are passionate researchers and teachers who strive to critically understand the world we live in and to continuously challenge commonplace assumptions. We value curiosity, discussion and life-long learning. We are committed to offering our students inclusive and exciting experiences of learning and growth.

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Email: wellis@uwc.ac.za

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.


  • Ellis, W. (2019). “Situational chiefs: notes on traditional leaders amidst calls for KhoiSan recognition after 1994” in Skosana, D., M. Buthelezi, Beth Vale Traditional Leaders in a Democracy: Resources, Respect and ResistanceMISTRA, Johannesburg
  • Ellis, W., Clement Cupido and Mogamat Igshaan Samuels (2021) Walking with herders: following into the multispecies classroom Anthropology Southern Africa, 2021 Vol. 44, No. 1
  • Ellis, W. (2019)  A Tree Walks through the Forest: Milkwoods and Other Botanical Witnesses in Catalyst: Feminism, Theory, Technoscience. Critical Perspectives: Plants, Race, and Colonialism, 5 (2)
  • Diana Gibson & William Ellis (2018) Human and plant interfaces: relationality, knowledge and practices, Anthropology Southern Africa, 41:2, 75-79, DOI: 10.1080/23323256.2018.1483735
  • William Ellis (2018) Plant knowledge: transfers, shaping and states in plant practices, Anthropology Southern Africa, 41:2, 80-91, DOI: 10.1080/23323256.2018.1476165

Email: hbecker@uwc.ac.za

Heike 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.

Email: jforte@uwc.ac.za

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.



Email: kgillespie@uwc.ac.za
Kelly Gillespie is a political and legal anthropologist with a research focus on abolition in South Africa, particularly concerned with the ways in which criminal legal processes become vectors for the continuation of apartheid relations. She joined the department of Anthropology/Sociology at the University of the Western Cape in 2018, prior to which she worked for a decade at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits). 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 writes and teaches about urbanism, violence, sexualities, race and the praxis of social justice. Prof Gillespie has been involved in work on the decolonisation of the university in South Africa, supporting student movement activism and curriculum reconstruction, with a particular pedagogical interest in writing-intensive teaching. She also works beyond the university in popular education projects supporting a range of social justice formations.


  • 2022. ‘Orders of Protection: Feminist lessons in anti-privatisation and authoritarianism from South Africa’. Cultural Anthropology, Vol. 37, Issue 4, pp. 599–624.
  • 2021. (co-authored with Leigh-Ann Naidoo). ‘Abolition Pedagogy: Forcefields of Critique’ Critical Times 4 (2), pp.284-312.
  • 2020. (co-authored with Gautam Bhan, Teresa Caldeira and AbdouMaliq Simone) ‘The pandemic, southern urbanisms and collective life’. Society + Space. https://www.societyandspace.org/articles/the-pandemic-southern-urbanisms-and-collective-life 
  • 2019. (co-authored with Leigh-Ann Naidoo). ‘Between the Cold War and the Fire: The Student Movement, Anti-assimilation, and the Question of the Future in South Africa’. The South Atlantic Quarterly 118(1), January, pp.226-239.
  • 2014. ‘Murder and the Whole City’. Anthropology Southern Africa, Vol 37 (3/4), pp.203-212.
  • 2011. ‘Containing the “wandering native”: Racial Jurisdiction and the Liberal Politics of Prison Reform in 1940s South Africa’ in Journal of Southern African Studies, Vol 37 (3).
  • 2008. ‘Moralizing Security: “Corrections” and the Post-Apartheid Prison’ in Race/Ethnicity, Vol 2 (1).
  • (with Bernard Dubbeld). 2007. ‘The possibility of a critical anthropology after apartheid: relevance, intervention, politics’. Anthropology Southern Africa. Vol 30(3&4)

Email: smfecane@uwc.ac.za
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.



Email: hparker@uwc.ac.za
Hameedah is a PhD Anthropology candidate and lecturer. She also holds the position of book review editor for the Anthropology Southern African (ASNA) Journal. Her research interests are varied but include medicine, health, and healing practices. 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), emphasising 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. Hameedah has also collaborated in formulating clinical guidelines for Primary Health Care (PHC) practices through the NRF at Stellenbosch University. In addition, she has worked on an International Development Research Centre (IDRC) project titled Promoting inclusive policies and approaches to address youth networks of gang violence in South Africa. Working in Manenberg, her research involved rewriting narratives of place-making and resilience amidst gang violence through the lenses of female youth.


Email: lprince@uwc.ac.za  
Lindy-Lee Prince is a social anthropologist with a primary focus on gender, feminist theory, queer theory, studies in performance, performativity, mass culture, visual anthropology, and digital anthropology. They completed their PhD at UCT through an interdisciplinary study as a research fellow at HUMA, the Institute for Humanities in Africa. Following this, they completed two post-doctoral research fellowships at UCT, first, at the African Gender Institute, followed by a research fellowship at the Hub for Decolonial Feminist Psychologies in Africa, where they researched online sexism and digital harassment. Their MA and PhD research focuses on queer studies and archiving, male gaze theory, performance art studies, and image making as knowledge creation, as related to hyper feminine performances – mainly focusing on Drag performance in the Western Cape, and Neo-Burlesque performance.


  • Prince, L. 2023. Queer Femme Drag Futures. Nordic Journal of African Studies, 32(3), 206-228 https://doi.org/10.53228/njas.v32i3.1086
  • Prince, L. 2023. “Drag Lives Here” in Beyond the Mountain: Queer Life in ‘Africa’s Gay Capital’, University of South Africa Press
  • Prince, L. 2017. All Drag, all the time – One night in Cape Town with Lola Fine. Anthropology Southern Africa, 40(2), 122-137 https://doi.org/10.1080/23323256.2017.1318709

Melissa Moti: mlouw@uwc.ac.za
Position: Sociology Administrative Officer
Qualifications: BA, BA (Hons), MA (Western Cape)