Professor of History

Professor Premesh Lalu is a founding director of the Centre for Humanities Research (CHR) at the University of the Western Cape. Under his leadership, the CHR was awarded the Department of Science and Innovation-National Research Foundation Flagship on Critical Thought in African Humanities. During his term as director, he worked with colleagues to establish the CHR’s Greatmore Arts and Humanities Hub that will host a Laboratory of Kinetic Objects (with Handspring Puppet Company and Ukwanda Puppetry and Design Collective), a program in music and new media, a documentary film training program, and an international consortium on communicating the humanities. Lalu is a board member of the International Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes, the Advisory Board Member of Kate Hamburger Kollegs in Munich, a juror at the Akademie Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart, and past chairperson of the Handspring Trust for Puppetry in Education.


Lalu has published widely in academic journals on historical discourse and the study of the humanities and is a regular contributor of public opinion pieces on the arts and humanities, with particular focus on apartheid, social justice and postcolonialism. His research articles have appeared in History and Theory, Journal of Southern African Studies, Journal of Asian, African and Middle Eastern Studies, Critical Times, Kronos: Southern African Histories, Economic and Political Weekly, and the South African Historical Journal.


  • The Deaths of Hintsa: Post-apartheid South Africa and the Shape of Recurring Pasts (Cape Town: HSRC Press, 2009)
  • Undoing Apartheid (UK: Polity Press, 2022 forthcoming)
  • Lalu, Premesh, Patricia Hayes & G. Arunima, Love and Revolution in the Twentieth-Century Colonial and Postcolonial World (UK: Palgrave, 2021)
  • Lalu, Premesh, Maurits van Bever Donker, Gary Minkley & Ross Truscott.Remains of the Social: Desiring the Post-apartheid (Johannesburg: Wits University Press, 2017)
  • Lalu, Premesh & Noeleen Murray. Becoming UWC: Reflections, Pathways, and Unmaking Apartheid's Legacies (Cape Town: Centre for Humanities Research, University of the Western Cape Press, 2012)
  • (2021). In the Event of History: Reading the Mime of Memory in the Present of Public History. Kronos47(1), 87-107.