Participant Info

First Name
Last Name
Southern Methodist University
Website URL
South Africa, Violence, Gender, Women, Apartheid, Colonialism, Land, Traditional Authority, Oral History
Additional Contact Information

Personal Info

About Me

Jill E. Kelly is Assistant Professor of History at Southern Methodist University. Her first book, To Swim with Crocodiles: Land, Violence, and Belonging in South Africa 1800-1996 (Michigan State University Press, 2018), offers new perspectives on South Africa’s transition-era civil war and the chieftaincy by considering what Africans knew and remembered about historical practices that governed connections between chiefs and subjects and how they used this knowledge to ensure social and physical security. The book is grounded in a rich array of written and oral archives, including documents in family, private, provincial, and national archives in South Africa; print media coverage; recorded oral tradition; and nearly 100 oral history interviews. Her new book project considers how gender and ethnicity shaped the availability of violence as political strategy in apartheid South Africa.

Her research has been supported by an American Council of Learned Societies fellowship (2015), the Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Abroad fellowship (2010), and a Fulbright Scholar Award (2018-2019). Her work has appeared in African Historical Review, Journal of Southern African Studies, and the edited collection Gendering Ethnicity in African Women’s Lives (University of Wisconsin Press).

Recent Publications

To Swim with Crocodiles: Land, Violence, and Belonging in South Africa, 1800-1996 (Michigan State University Press, 2018).

“Bantu Authorities and Betterment: The Ambiguous Responses of Natal’s Chiefs and Regents, 1955-1970,” Journal of Southern African Studies 41, no. 2 (2015).

“Women Were Not Supposed to Fight”: The Gendered Uses of Martial and Moral Zuluness during uDlame (1990-1994) in Jan Bender Shetler (ed.), Gendering Ethnicity in African Women’s Lives. University of Wisconsin Press (May 2015).

“‘It is because of our Islam that we are there’: The Call of Islam in the United Democratic Front,” African Historical Review 41, no. 1 (Jul 2009): 118-139.

Media Coverage
Country Focus
South Africa
Expertise by Geography
Expertise by Chronology
5, 8, 9
Expertise by Topic
Colonialism, Gender, Women