Senior lecturer: department of anthropology, Wits University

Kelly Gillespie

Kelly Gillespie sees teaching young South Africans “to think critically” as both a pleasure and her political duty. It’s partly the reason she returned from the US, having completed a PhD in anthropology on scholarship to the University of Chicago. In her view, universities should be turning out “thoughtful, eloquent and critical citizens”, not churning out a production line of employable youth.

When not lecturing, Gillespie can be found researching topical issues in interesting places such as criminal courtrooms, prisons and feminist organisations, a skill that secured her a Friedel Sellschop Award for outstanding young researcher in 2010. Passionate about creating a space for critical engagement, Gillespie co-founded the Johannesburg Workshop in Theory and Criticism, hoping to shift the idea that high theory is produced

in the northern hemisphere and merely applied in the South. We can’t wait for her thoughts on how criminal justice interfaces with social justice in South Africa, which is the subject of her first book.

— Cat Pritchard