Premesh Lalu

 Premesh Lalu

Former Director

Professor Premesh Lalu is the former Director of the DST-NRF Flagship Centre for Humanities Research at the University of the Western Cape, South Africa. Following an MA from the University of the Western Cape, he was awarded a MacArthur Foundation Doctoral Fellowship to read towards a doctorate in History at the University of Minnesota. In 2003 he successfully defended a doctoral dissertation titled “In the Event of History”. After sixteen years in the Department of History as an Associate Professor, Lalu was awarded an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grant to convene a fellowship programme on the Study of the Humanities in Africa. He was promoted to full professor upon being appointed as Director of the Centre for Humanities Research in 2008.

Lalu has published widely in academic journals such as History and Theory,  Journal of Southern African StudiesAfrika Focus, Journal of Higher Education in Africa, Kronos: Southern African Histories, Current Writing, Afrika Focus, Journal of Africa, Middle East and Asian Studies, Social Dynamics, and History in Africa. Lalu’s writing has appeared in newspapers and online platforms such as the Mail and Guardian, Dailymaverick, Africa is a Country, Business Day, the Cape Times as well as in edited publications. His book The Deaths of Hintsa: Postapartheid South Africa and the Shape of Recurring Pasts (2009) argues that a postcolonial critique of apartheid is necessary in order to forge a concept of apartheid that allows us to properly formulate a deeper meaning of the post-apartheid. He is co-editor of Remains of the Social: Desiring the Post-Apartheid (2017) and Becoming UWC: Reflections, Pathways and Unmaking Apartheid’s Legacies (2012). Lalu is a board member of the Consortium of Humanities Centres and Institutes, former chairperson of the Handspring Trust for Puppetry in Education, and former trustee of the District Six Museum in Cape Town, South Africa.

In 2019, Lalu was awarded a writing fellowship at the Humanities Long Room at Trinity College, Dublin where he worked on a monograph titled The Techne of Trickery: Race and its Uncanny Returns. He has previously held fellowships at Emory University, Amherst College, and the University of Minnesota. Lalu has been invited to lecture at Cornell University, University of Virginia, Shanghai University, Northwestern University, University of Bologna, Addis Ababa University, American University of Cairo, Ghent University, Macalester College, University of Minnesota, Columbia University, University of Fort Hare, Rhodes University, University of Cape Town, Stellenbosch University, and Tropenmuseum (Amsterdam), among others. As director of the CHR, he is the Principal Investigator for the DST-NRF Flagship on Critical Thought in African Humanities and served as PI on seven major Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grants at the University of the Western Cape. With a stellar team of colleagues at the CHR, Lalu hosted the international annual meeting of the Consortium of Humanities Centres and Institutes and co-convened the Global Humanities Curriculum Workshop with Homi Bhabha, director of the Mahindra Humanities Institute at Harvard University.

Related News

A Celebration of Puppetry at the Boschendal Plum Festival

Life-sized elephant puppet Mnumzane strolled across the Boschendal Estate on Sunday 14 March 2021, accompanied by little elephant Alfie, their path criss-crossed by the boisterous Dassie puppet.

Premesh Lalu in virtual conversation

The virtual conversation took place on Thursday, 30 April 2020.

The CHR’s Professor Premesh Lalu to present at the University of Stellenbosch.

The CHR’s Professor Premesh Lalu to present a paper titled: ‘Theatrical Politics: Ubu and the Truth Commission Revisited’ at The University of Stellenbosch.

CHR Director Hands Over the Baton

The Centre for Humanities Research (CHR) congratulates Professor Premesh Lalu on his 12 years as Director of the CHR, and is excited to announce the next stage of his work with the CHR and UWC.

What is the University for?

A new paper by Professor Premesh Lalu has been published in Critical Times: Interventions in Global Critical Theory.

Professor Premesh Lalu celebrates David Koloane’s life

Professor Premesh Lalu celebrates David Koloane’s life as a purveyor of “a lover’s discourse” and he is described by former president Thabo Mbeki as “a fighter for the liberation of our people.”

The Curricular and the Global, the Tropic and the Taxonomic

The Global Humanities Curriculum Workshop held in December of 2018 enabled a rich set of connections and convergences around questions of the curriculum.

Article in New Literary History Recognising the work of the CHR

James Chandler acknowledges the CHR in a publication on aesthetic education and sensibility.

Global Africa: African and African Diaspora Studies in the 21st Century

Professor Premesh Lalu attended an international conference at the Africa Institute, in Sharjah (UAE).

A Look Back at the 2019 Mellon Africa Humanities Workshop in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

In January, CHCI held its first Africa Humanities Workshop in Addis Ababa, hosted by Elizabeth Giorgis, Associate Professor of Art History, Criticism and Theory in the College of Performing and Visual Art and the Center for African Studies at Addis Ababa University.

Bruce Lee, Steve Biko, Dollar Brand: Brothers with imperfect timing or everybody was Kung-Fu fighting

Professor Premesh Lalu

Decolonizing Critical Theory: Decolonial Aesthetics and Epistemic Violence

CHR Director Professor Premesh Lalu to speak at workshop at Northwestern University

Cape Town Global Humanities Curriculum Workshop

10 and 11 December 2018

Encounters Film Festival awards and special mentions

The CHR congratulates doctoral fellow Rui Assubuji on winning the Ster Kinekor Encounters Youth Experience Award for Best Short Film at the 20th Encounters Film Festival.

Encounters Film Festival

The CHR is pleased to announce that three documentaries produced as part of the Documentary Film course will show at this years 20th Annual Encounters South African International Film Festival.

2018 International Roundtable at Institute for Global Citizenship (Macalester College)

Plenary Speaker Professor Premesh Lalu

The Deaths of Hintsa: Post-Apartheid South Africa and the Shape of Recurring Pasts

by Premesh Lalu (HSRC Press, 2009) In 1996, as South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission […]

Becoming UWC: Reflections, pathways and unmaking apartheid’s legacy

Edited by Premesh Lalu and Noëleen Murray

CHCI Meeting Documentary

A short documentary on the Annual Meeting of the Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes, held at the Castle of Good Hope, Cape Town

Igniting Conversations about Science

CHR Director Professor Premesh Lalu delivered an address at the media launch of Science Forum […]

What is the university for?

By Premesh Lalu " In the wake #FeesMustFall protests that electrified South Africa one week ago, much has been […]

The CHR fellowship programme will continue in 2021 primarily through online platforms. Regulations permitting, the CHR plans to host limited live events in compliance with current COVID-19 protocols. Please follow our events page for updates about seminars, workshops, and arts events.

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