Patricia Hayes

NRF SARChI Chair in Visual History & Theory

A scholar of African history, gender studies and visuality, Patricia Hayes began research on photography and the question of history after completing her PhD at Cambridge University. Supported by an innovative History Department, research and teaching in Visual History became established at the University of the Western Cape (UWC) from the late 1990s. Specific paradigms and postgraduate research associated with the Chair now include documentary photography; liberation struggles and the post-apartheid; digital photography in the postcolony; and photography and historical method.

Patricia Hayes has edited several journal special issues on visuality and gender including Gender & History (2006) and Kronos (2000).  She co-authored Bush of Ghosts: Life & War in Namibia (Umuzi 2010) with photographer John Liebenberg, and has published articles on several South African and Mozambican photographers. Her work appears in Okwui Enwezor’s The Rise and Fall of Apartheid (International Centre for Photography 2012), Crais and McLendon’s The South African Reader (Duke 2014), and Mofokeng’s Chasing Shadows (Prestel 2011). Recent critical historical articles on photography and the making of publics have appeared in Cultural Critique (Issue 89, 2015), Sanil V & Divya Dwivedi’s The Public Sphere from Outside the West (Bloomsbury 2015), and the 2017 special issue on the 1980s of the journal Photographies. Hayes is also series co-editor of the new Photography, History: History, Photography series at Bloomsbury Academic publishers (

Patricia Hayes was educated in Zimbabwe. She gained her BA (Hons) in Modern History & Modern Languages from Oxford University (UK), a Postgraduate Certificate of Education (PGCE) from the University of Zimbabwe, and completed her PhD on the history of the colonisation of northern Namibia at Cambridge University in 1992.

As a postdoctoral Junior Research Fellow at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge (1993-5) Hayes began work on two collaborative research projects on Namibia supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities (USA), resulting in Namibia Under South African Rule (James Currey 1998) and The Colonising Camera (Ohio University Press 1998). She joined the History Department at UWC in 1995, teaching 20th century African history as well as postgraduate courses on gender and visual history. She co-edited Deep hiStories: Gender & Colonialism in Southern Africa (Rodopi 2002) with UWC colleagues Gary Minkley and Wendy Woodward. She was Chair of the History Department in 2006-07, and national Convenor of the NRF Rating Panel for History in 2011-2. She has held Visiting Fellowships at Columbia University (1993), Emory University (2001), University of Michigan (Eisenberg Institute for Historical Studies 2005), Cambridge University (Smuts Fellowship 2006), Calcutta Centre for Social Science Research (2008), Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi (2009), and the Internationales Kolleg Morphomata at the University of Cologne (2011 and 2013). Hayes is one of the convenors of the Seminar in Contemporary History and Humanities, co-hosted by the History Department and the Centre for Humanities Research. She was seconded to the CHR in 2016 when appointed to the SARChI Chair in Visual History & Theory.

Related News

A Tribute to Paul Grendon

On 7 September 2019, prolific photographer and friend of the CHR Paul Grendon passed away. Patricia Hayes offers a tribute to his life and work.

Other Lives of the Image: International Workshop in Visual History and Theory

From 4 – 6 October, the International Workshop in Visual History and Theory will convene around the theme Other Lives of the Image.

Other lives of the image

Call for papers: International Workshop in Visual History & Theory

On the Edge of History: Photographs & African Archives

International Workshop on Visual History & Theory

The CHR in the time of a global pandemic

In line with protocols introduced by government towards the prevention and containment of the COVID-19 virus, the CHR suspended its public events, seminars, and general fellowship program until further notice.  We wish CHR fellows, students, artists, colleagues and friends, as well as our partners and funders in South Africa and across the world much strength and compassion in these difficult times.


Contact form

COVID-19 Corona Virus South African Resource Portal