Prof. William Beinart
William Beinart has been Rhodes Professor of Race Relations since 1997. The position was established in 1953 to research and teach on ‘race relations’ with special reference to southern Africa. It has become an African Studies post. Prior to this he worked in Historical Studies at the University of Bristol and was co-editor of the Journal of Southern African Studies and chair of its editorial board. He was the founding Director of the African Studies Centre at Oxford (2002-6), and co-chair of the School of Interdisciplinary Area Studies (SIAS, 2006-8). He was President of the African Studies Association of the UK (2008-10) and is currently Director of Graduate Studies at the African Studies Centre.
His major research and teaching interests are in southern African history and politics and in environmental history. Much of his earlier research focussed on rural African communities in the Eastern Cape and he has retained this concern with land, agriculture and rural politics. His current research includes a project, with Karen Brown, on local knowledge about livestock management and veterinary ideas – including interviews in Mpondoland, his original research focus. He researched on land reform in South Africa in the mid-1990s. In addition to earlier books on rural and agrarian issues, he has published an overview history, Twentieth-Century South Africa (2001) and edited, with Marcelle Dawson, a collection of essays by former doctoral students at Oxford on Popular Politics and Resistance Movements in South Africa (2010). A number of his doctoral students, past and present, have researched in this field, including: politics and violence from the 1950s to 1970s; the relationship between strikes and boycotts, 1978-82; HIV/AIDs activism; new social movements; political elites and popular politics in Transkei; grass roots nationalism in the Eastern Cape; and the insurrection in the Vaal triangle. He is mentoring a research project by Hugh Macmillan on the South African ANC in Zambia, 1965-1990. In recent years he has focussed on environmental history, publishing the Rise of Conservation in South Africa (2003), Social History and African Environments (ed with Joann McGregor, 2003) and, with Lotte Hughes, Environment and Empire (2007). He has completed, with Luvuyo Wotshela, Prickly Pear: the History of a Plant in the Eastern Cape, South Africa (forthcoming 2011) and is writing and lecturing more generally on the history of plant transfers, invasive species, and biodiversity. He is currently involved in a British Academy funded project on the history of wildlife film and photography on Africa. He has supervised a number of doctoral students in this field, including histories of: Moremi National Park in Botswana: wildlife farming; veterinary services and livestock diseases in South Africa; epizootics in the nineteenth century Cape; colonial environmental sciences in Africa; fire science and ecology in South Africa; and a cultural history of the Kruger Park.
In the African Studies masters, he contributes to the core courses and teaches options: Apartheid and the Transition in South Africa; the Environmental History of Southern and Central Africa; and (for 2011-12) Africa on Film. He supervises in African Studies and other departments.