Centre for Humanities Research
University of the Western Cape

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Heidi Grunebaum

Acting Director, Centre for Humanities Research

Suren Pillay

Senior Administration Officer

Lameez Lalkhen


Since its inception in 2006, the Centre of Humanities Research (CHR) of the University of the Western Cape has emerged as a crucial meeting point for researchers in the Humanities and Social Sciences throughout Southern Africa. The Centre strives to develop unifying and interdisciplinary themes in the humanities that will enable a renewal of its study in Africa.

These thematics are debated and refined through a weekly seminar series, graduate fellowship discussions, reading groups and peer reviewed publications. The leading fellowship research platform of the CHR is the Programme on the Study of the Humanities in Africa (PSHA). The PSHA brings together masters, doctoral, postdoctoral fellows and faculty into a discussion on constructing new directions in humanities research. The CHR hosted a three year PSHA study on the foundational concepts of the Humanities that have been at the core of making sense of the predicaments of social change in South Africa. The first phase of the project will culminate in a book project on the major contribution of the South African Contemporary History and Humanities Seminar. The centre also hosts the investigation of multilingual practices and cities in transition, colloquia on war and the everyday in Africa, the African Programme in Museums and Heritage Studies (taught and convened by the History Department) and the project on aesthetics and politics. The CHR has been a venue for the launch of major books by UWC faculty. Amongst these, Andrew Bank’s Bushman in a Victorian World (Double Storey, 2006), Ivan Karp, Corinne Kratz, Ciraj Rassool Museum Frictions (Duke University Press, 2006) and Wendy Woodward’s "The Animal Gaze: Animal Subjectivities in Southern African Narratives" (Wits University Press, 2008), and Premesh Lalu's "The Deaths of Hintsa: Post-apartheid South Africa and the shape of recurring pasts" (HSRC Press, 2009).

The CHR is home to the post-doctoral fellows of the American Council for Learned Societies African Humanities Programme. Its major research partner is the Interdisciplinary Centre for the Study of Global Change at the University of Minnesota. Future plans include extending these relations with colleagues in African, Turkish and South Asian Humanities Research Centres. Other partners include Robben Island Museum UWC Mayibuye Archives, the Handspring Puppet Company, District Six Museum and the Lwandle Migrant Labour Museum.

The CHR houses the impressive AMAC and Community Arts Project collection consisting of more than three thousand works of art and is the home of the acclaimed journal Kronos: Southern African Histories. In the coming years, the CHR will pursue research on the broad theme of aesthetics and politics that targets ways of building a new aesthetics in the African present in addition to its existing research platforms.