William Ellis

I am a lecturer in anthropology at the University of the Western Cape. I teach courses in Economic Anthropology, Anthropological Theory and the Anthropology of Africa. My economic anthropology course focuses the link between religion and economy. We explore works by Georges Bataille, Marcel Mauss and Marshall Sahlins on the gift and we question the market through the work of Karl Polanyi. Additionally we 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. My post graduate theory course teaches the history of anthropology, the ontological turn and the ethnography of the “more than human.”  I maintain strong interests in KhoiSan studies, indigeneity and I am passionate about researching the human plant interface. I have done extensive fieldwork among the San people in the southern Kalahari.  The main thrust of my fieldwork there was land reform, natural resources management and the intersections with culture. At present I am 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 I am keenly interested 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 Traditional Leaders in a Democracy: Resources, Respect and Resistance. Skosana, D. M. Buthelezi, Beth Vale (Eds.) Johannesburg: MISTRA.

  • Ellis, W. (2019) “A Tree Walks through the Forest: Milkwoods and Other Botanical Witnesses.” Catalyst, Feminism, Theory, Technoscience. Special issue: Critical Perspectives, Plants, Race, and Colonialism, 5 (2): 1-4.

  • Ellis, W. F. 2018. “Ethnographies of race and identity.” In  Balibar/Wallerstein's race, nation, class: rereading a dialogue for our times, Bojadzijev, M. And Klingan, K. (Eds.) Hamburg: Argument Verlag, Haus der Kulteuren der Welt, 88-93.
  • Ellis, W.F. 2018. “Vetkat’s cinematic: oneironauts of critique in the Kalahari.”  In Southern hemisphere ethnographies of space, place, and time, Rinehart, R., Kidd, J. and Garcia, A. (Eds.) Bern, Switzerland: Peter Lang, 213-232.
  • Ellis, W. F. 2015. “Ons is Boesmans: commentary on the naming of Bushmen in the southern Kalahari.” Anthropology Southern Africa 38(1-2): 120-133.
  • Ellis, W. F. 2014. “Simulacral, genealogical, auratic and representational failure: Bushman authenticity as methodological collapse.” Critical Arts 28(3): 493-520.
  • Ellis, W. F. 2010 “The Khomani San Land Claim against the Kalahari Gemsbok National Park:Requiring and Acquiring Authenticity.” In Land, Memory, Reconstruction, and Justice, Cherryl Walker et al. (Eds.) Athens: Ohio University Press, 181 -197.
  • Ellis, W. F. (forthcoming) “Knowledge transfers, shaping and states in plant practices.”  Anthropology Southern Africa.
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Mail : wellis@uwc.ac.za

Phone : +27 21 959 3347

Web : https://uwc.academia.edu/williamellis

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