Premesh Lalu

 Premesh Lalu

Former Director

Professor Premesh Lalu is the former Director of the DSI-NRF Flagship on Critical Thought in African Humanities of the Centre for Humanities Research. 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 was the Principal Investigator for the DSI-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.

In 2022, Lalu was seconded to take up a post at the The Africa Institute in Sharjah, UAE.

The Africa Institute:

Related News

Recording: Conversation on Undoing Apartheid

The recording for a book launch of Premesh Lalu’s Undoing Apartheid is now available via the below link.

Thinking Across Hemispheres

A Leuphana Institute for Advanced Studies (LIAS) Lecture

Undoing Apartheid

The CHR’s Premesh Lalu’s much anticipated new book, Undoing Apartheid, appears in November 2022 with Polity Press. The book responds to the CHR’s inaugural question of the meaning of post-apartheid freedom, especially through sustained research projects on aesthetic education, the becoming technical of the human, and communicating the humanities

RECORDING: Undoing Apartheid, book launch and panel discussion.

The Jackman Humanities Institute (JHI), University of Toronto, held an online book launch and panel discussion of Premesh Lalu’s Undoing Apartheid, on Tuesday, 14 March.

Book Launch: Conversation on Undoing Apartheid

Join the International Consortium of Critical Theory Programs for the book launch of Premesh Lalu’s Undoing Aprtheid.

Durban International Film Festival: The Double Futures of Athlone

Premesh Lalu’s documentary film, The Double Future’s of Athlone, which was sold out at the Encounters documentary film festival in Cape Town and Johannesburg, will be screened online at the Durban International Film Festival from July 21-30, 2022.

Beyond Nostalgia: Reimagining Post-Apartheid Freedom

Founding CHR director and filmmaker Premesh Lalu will be in conversation with Rashid Lombard, Jayson King, Sylvia Mndunyelwa and Dinga Sikwebu about his new film The Double Futures of Athlone at the Encounters South African Documentary International Film Festival. The panel will be moderated by Valmont Layne.

Book Launch: Love And Revolution in the Twentieth-Century Colonial and Postcolonial World

On behalf of the Africa Institute, we are pleased to invite you to its Faculty and Fellows Seminar Series for a book launch and discussion on ,i>Love and Revolution in the Twentieth-Century Colonial and Postcolonial World.

Kerala Council for Historical Research Launches Love and Revolution

The CHR is pleased to share that the Kerala Council for Historical Research (KCHR) will be hosting a launch for Love and Revolution in the Twentieth-Century Colonial and Postcolonial World: Perspectives from South Asia and Southern Africa.

Spotlight on Documentary

The Documentary Film Project at the CHR is key to rethinking the humanities PhD, incorporating audio-visual content into a reimagining of an aesthetic education.

Love and Revolution in the Twentieth-Century Colonial and Postcolonial World

The CHR is very pleased to announce the publication of Love and Revolution in the Twentieth-Century Colonial and Postcolonial World (Palgrave Macmillan, 2021), edited by G. Arunima, Patricia Hayes, and Premesh Lalu.

DSI-NRF Early Career Doctoral Fellows: Meet the Next Generation

The CHR’s Flagship fellowship programme for early career scholars is at the heart of a deep commitment to transforming higher education at the doctoral level in South Africa.

Book Chapters List

Contributions by Staff and Fellows of the Centre for Humanities Research to edited volumes represent a diverse engagement with the centre’s academic inquiries. The following list shows publications from the latter years of the centre’s output.

List of Articles (2016-present)

Staff and Fellows of the Centre for Humanities Research regularly publish articles and reviews in local and international journals, applying the centre’s intellectual inquiries across a wide range of disciplines and interests.

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 was beginning its hearings, Nicholas Gcaleka, a healer diviner from […]

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 South Africa 2016 on 1 November at the Cape Town […]