Kees van der Waal

Kees van der WaalKees van der Waal is a social anthropologist in the Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology at Stellenbosch University, South Africa, since 2002. He obtained his doctoral degree at the University of Johannesburg (then Rand Afrikaans University) in 1986, based on research on informal sector craftwork and trading in rural areas of the Limpopo Province in South Africa.

His more recent ethnographic research in the Limpopo Province and the Western Cape focuses on several thematic areas:

  • Culture and identity (Afrikaner cultural identity politics as expressed in the language debate at Stellenbosch University and in popular music, e.g. De la Rey and Afrikaaps);
  • The anthropology of development (Local responses to development interventions in the Cape Winelands) that led to a recent edited volume (Van der Waal, C. S. (ed.) 2014 Winelands, Wealth and Work: Transformations in the Dwars River Valley, Stellenbosch);
  • Ethnography of the South African Lowveld in the Limpopo Province in the period 1986-2013. A monograph based on this longterm field research is the present project that I am working on at the ASC, with the provisional title: Social dynamics in a Lowveld rural settlement: an ethnography of the South African transition from below. The aim is to write a monograph on the South African transformation from a very local (but contextualized) set of experiences with a focus on historical transformation that is socio-economic, political as well as disciplinary and personal. A core challenge is to find the core arguments and the red thread running through the wealth of fieldnotes, for which the fellowship at the ASC offers an ideal opportunity to work in a richly stimulating and challenging environment.
  • New work is taking shape around the themes of race and culture in South African anthropology (from the nationalist beginnings at Stellenbosch University in the 1920s to being a servant of apartheid) with a focus on the history and impact of the discipline, and including reflections on my own experience of Afrikaner volkekunde. A Mellon Foundation funded seminar programme is emerging around this work, driven by a network of researchers, under the title: Indexing the Human.
Fellowship year: 
Prof. Dr. C.S. (Kees) van der Waal
Former visiting fellow