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Prof. Lesley Green (Director)

Lesley Green

Lesley Green is the director of Environmental Humanities South. She is Professor of Anthropology in the School of African and Gender Studies, Anthropology and Linguistics at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, and was a Fulbright Fellow at the Science and Justice Research Centre at U C Santa Cruz in 2018.

Her work focuses on the intersection of science studies, anthropology, philosophy and research methods in the Anthropocene. Her book on six fields of environmental management sciences in South Africa, Rock | Water | Life: Ecology and Humanities for a Decolonising South Africa, is currently in press with Duke University Press. Previous publications include Contested Ecologies: Dialogues in the South on Nature and Knowledge (HSRC Press 2013) and Knowing the Day, Knowing the World (Arizona University Press 2013).

Profile: L Green on UCT AXL  | Publications: L Green on Academia 

Assoc. Prof. Frank Matose (Co-Director)

Frank Matose

Frank Matose is an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology and a Co-Director of the Environmental Humanities South Centre at the University of Cape Town, South Africa.

His research interests are in environmental sociology with a particular focus on Southern Africa, placing emphasis on the intersection of local people, the state, capital, forest and resource conservation, and the political economy of protected areas. Interests in these areas are informed by intellectual projects around environmental governance, social justice, and commons in Africa.

He is a past board member of the International Association for the Study of Commons (IASC, 2006–2012) and a member of the editorial board of the International Journal of the Commons. He has a forthcoming monograph titled Politics of Chronic Liminality: Forests and the power of the marginalised in Southern Africa and an edited volume titled The violence of conservation in Africa: State, militarisation and alternatives (with Maano Ramutsindela and Tafadzwa Mushonga, Edward Elgar Publishing).

Profile and publications: F Matose on UCT Department of Sociology 

Assoc. Prof. Virginia MacKenny

Virginia MacKenny

Virginia MacKenny is an Associate Professor in Painting at Michaelis School of Fine Art, University of Cape Town. A practicing artist she has received a number of awards including the Volkskas Atelier Award (1991), an Ampersand Fellowship in New York (2004) and a Donald Gordon Creative Arts Award (2011). She writes on contemporary South African art and presented papers at the Tate in London, and conferences in Mumbai, Paris and Madrid. A previous KwaZuluNatal editor for www.artthrob.co.za, she contributed to Sophie Perryer’s 10 Years 100 Artists – Art in a Democratic South Africa (2004) and regularly writes catalogue essays and for Art South Africa.

A critic and curator, in 2006 she co-curated with Gabi Ncgobo Second to None, an exhibition for Iziko South African National Gallery celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the 1956 Women’s March on Pretoria. She is interested in painting, gender and deep ecology and curated Threshold (2010) engaging artists in Southern Africa concerned with environmental and climate change issues. A book on the same topic is currently under production.

Her exhibition Waymarker (2012) responded to a 700 km walk across France during which she attempted to ‘tread lightly’ on the planet. 

Profile: V MacKenny on UCT Michaelis School of Fine Art  

Michelle Pressend

Michelle Pressend

Michelle Pressend is a lecturer in environmental sociology. She previously worked as a researcher, policy analyst and activist on environmental and socioeconomic issues, primarily within the non-governmental sector. She served in the national government during the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) 2002.

She is interested in re-thinking the political economy of how energy is harnessed to open collective imaginaries that respond differently to the crises facing the world, particularly related to climate change. She deploys philosophical positions, ideas and approaches based on relational ontology to enhance our ability to undo binaries, alienation and separation. She places emphasis on transdisciplinary methodologies and the contribution that other discourses can make to post-humanism and the anthropocentrism debates. Her research focuses on ways to create, reclaim and defend renewable energy transitions and energy use in terms of relationships, explores what ‘energy democracy’ might look like and engages with the ecocentrism and eco-feminist articulations and ethics of sustainability.

Profile and publications: M Pressend on UCT Department of Sociology 

Dr Ian-Malcolm Rijsdijk

Ian-Malcolm Rijsdijk

Ian-Malcolm Rijsdijk is a senior lecturer in the Centre for Film and Media Studies, and director of the African Cinema Unit at the University of Cape Town. He has published widely on the filmmaker Terrence Malick (the subject of his PhD), as well as South African film, wildlife documentary and literary fiction. He is currently working on early South African cinema and South Africa imagined in international films.

As Director of the African Cinema Unit, he teaches in the MA in African Cinema and is also involved in developing postgraduate scholarship in African and South African screen studies. He teaches a postgraduate course on Film and Environment and is a registered contributor to the South African Bird Atlas Project.

In 2013, he received a Distinguished Teacher’s Award from the University of Cape Town.

Profile: I Rijsdijk on UCT Centre for Film and Media Studies 

Assoc. Prof. Lance van Sittert

Lance van Sittert

Lance van Sittert is an environmental historian based in the Department of Historical Studies and has published widely on South African environmental history including on the historical spread of conservation, wire fencing, artesian water boring and predator extermination in the South African countryside. He has also written extensively on marine environmental history including the origins of marine science and fisheries management and post-apartheid reform in the fisheries.

He is interested in the invention and imagination of ‘the environment’ as an arena of state and civil society formation and action. He explores the development, operationalisation and contestation of specialist bodies of ‘environmental’ knowledge and how these operate as mechanisms of social engineering and dispossession in the past and present. He is currently pursuing these lines of enquiry through histories of ‘environment’s’ excluded others; vermin, weeds, alien invasives, pathogens, poachers, etc.

Profile: L van Sittert on UCT Department of Historical Studies 

Dr Nikiwe Solomon

Nikiwe Solomon

Nikiwe Solomon is an environmental anthropologist working at the interface of science, technology, politics and urban river and water management. Her PhD dissertation research The Kuils Multiple: An ethnography of an urban river in Cape Town explored the entanglement of the Kuils River with social, technical and political worlds in the context of urban planning in a time of climate change. Nikiwe has experience in consultancy and academic work, particularly focused on green and alternative economies and water socio-techno-political worlds. She has experience in the training of green and social small to medium enterprises (SMEs) as well as teaching courses on society, democracy, science, economics and politics in the Environmental humanities at the University of Cape Town in South Africa. She is also co-editor of an upcoming book with Prof. Lesley Green and Associate Prof. Virginia MacKenny with the preliminary title Resistance is fertile: On being Sons and Daughters of the Soil.

Nikiwe is a part of Seed Box, where she serves as a fellow in the project 'Feminist and Anticolonial Approaches to Environmental Humanities and Justice in the Global South' with research focusing on flows – of currents (water and capital), toxics and cement.

Profile and publications: N Solomon on UCT AXL  | N Solomon on ResearchGate

Assoc. Prof. Hedley Twidle

Hedley Twidle

Hedley Twidle grew up on mining towns in remote parts of South Africa, and joined the English Department in 2010. I am now a senior lecturer in southern African and postcolonial literatures. Much of my research explores the difficult relation between postcolonial and environmentalist approaches in the humanities, and what questions of deep time, slow violence, climate change and the non-human do to literary form.

In work on writers like Rachel Carson and Arundhati Roy, I have explored the language of public science writing and environmental justice, tracing how unstable ideas of ‘conservation’, ‘ecology’ and ‘pollution’ might be engaged from the global South. Subsequent projects have focused on scientific projects and infrastructures - national highways; the Square Kilometre Array Telescope (SKA); landscapes of waste - as well as the ecological, social and cultural legacies of nuclear and mining industries in Africa.

I have a strong interest in the essay as a creative, experimental form, and I try to engage with and write more ‘public’ forms of scholarship. I am particularly interested in forms of environmental writing, and the intersections between creative non-fiction, global ecological crisis and the arts of environmental justice and resistance.

Profile and publications: H Twidle on UCT Department of English Literature  | Website: hedleytwidle.com

Affiliated academics


Vivienne Toleni, EHS Administrator