Professor Andrew Bank, Department of History, University of the Western Cape

This four-lecture course explores the role played by women intellectuals in establishing the scholarly disciplines of African studies and, in particular, social anthropology in modern South Africa.

The first lecture shows that the richness of Wilhelm Immanual Bleek’s archive derived in practice from the empathetic relationship that evolved in a Mowbray home between his sister-in-law, Lucy Lloyd, and three successive /Xam Bushman narrators: //Kabbo, Dia!kwain and /Han=kass’o.

The second lecture argues that the ethnographies and public intellectual practices of Winifred Tucker Hoernle, Audrey Isabel Richards, Monica Hunter Wilson, Ellen Hellmann, Hilda Beemer Kuper and Eileen Jensen Krige were profoundly humanist contributions that fostered respect for African cultures and challenged the segregationist governments of twentieth-century South Africa.

The third lecture tracks Monica Hunter Wilson (1908–1982) and her African co-researchers through field sites in Pondoland, East London, Bunyakyusa and Langa. It reveals the contributions to anthropology of African ‘cultural brokers’ who acted as her language teachers, guides, networkers, co-interviewees or bodyguards.

The final lecture, which draws on the biographies of Ellen Hellmann (1908–1982) and Hilda Kuper (1911–1995), makes a case for the importance of personal background and social identity, particularly Jewish identity, in shaping South African anthropology in its founding phase.



  1. Lucy Lloyd and the heterogeneous roots of /Xam Bushman studies, 1870–1914
  2. Feminising the foundational narrative: South Africa’s women anthropologists, 1885–1995
  3. Africanising anthropology: Monica Wilson and her interpreters
  4. Anthropology and Jewish identity: Ellen Hellmann and Hilda Kuper


Recommended reading

Bank, A. 2016. Pioneers of the Field: South Africa’s Women Anthropologists Johannesburg: Wits UP.

Bank, A. and Bank, L.J. 2013. Inside African Anthropology: Monica Wilson and her Interpreters. Cape Town: Cambridge University Press.


Date: Monday 7–Thursday 10 August
Time:  3.00 pm
COURSE FEES: Full R385,00  Staff R193,00  Reduced R95,00