Kelly Gillespie

I am a political and legal anthropologist with a research focus on criminal justice in South Africa, particularly concerned with the ways in which criminal justice has become a vector for the continuation of Apartheid relations. I joined the UWC department in 2018, prior to which I worked for a decade in the Department of Anthropology at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), serving as Head from 2015 to 2017. I completed my PhD at the University of Chicago in 2007 with a dissertation on South African prisons. I write and teach about law and justice, urbanism, sexualities, race and the praxis of social justice. In 2008 I cofounded the Johannesburg Workshop in Theory and Criticism (JWTC), an experimental project tasked with recrafting the work of critical theory beyond the global north. I have been involved in work on the decolonisation of the university in South Africa, supporting student movement activism and disciplinary/curriculum reconstruction. I also work beyond the university in popular education projects supporting a broad range of social justice formations.

  • Gillespie, Kelly and Naidoo, Leigh-Ann. forthcoming. “Abolition Pedagogy: Force fields of Critique” Critical Times (forthcoming)

  • Gillespie, Kelly. 2021. “Robben Island, Abolition, Prison Museum” In Falling Monuments, Hidden Ruins. Hilton Judin and Arianna Lissoni (Eds) Johannesburg: Wits University Press.

  • Gillespie and Simone. 2020. “The pandemic, southern urbanisms and collective life”. Society + Space.

  • Gillespie, Kelly and Naidoo, Leigh-Ann. 2019. “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): 226-239.

  • Gillespie, K. 2017. “Before the Commission: Ethnography as Public Testimony.” In  If Truth Be Told: The Politics of Public Ethnography, D. Fassin (Ed). Durham: Duke University Press, 69-95.
  • Gillespie, K. 2014. “Tausa: The making of a prison photograph and its public.” In Wide Angle: Photography as Participatory Practice, Kurgan, T. and Murinik, T. (Eds). Johannesburg:FourthWall Books.
  • Gillespie, K. 2014. “Murder and the whole city.” Anthropology Southern Africa 37 (3/4): 203-212.
  • Gillespie, K. 2012. “Teaching dissent: Reflections from a Johannesburg classroom.” Critical Arts 26 (1).
  • Gillespie, K. 2011.Containing the ‘wandering native’: Racial jurisdiction and the liberal politics of Prison Reform in 1940s South Africa.” Journal of Southern African Studies 37(3): 627– 643.
  • Gillespie, K. 2008. “Moralizing security: ‘Corrections’ and the post-apartheid prison.” Race/Ethnicity, Vol 2(1): 69-87.
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