Professor of Anthropology and Director of Environmental Humanities South at the University of Cape Town, and currently a Cheney Visiting Research Fellow at the School of Earth and Environment at Leeds, working to build stronger social science and humanities engagement with earth and life sciences.

A former Fulbright Scholar at the Science and Justice Research Center at the University of California at Santa Cruz, Mandela Fellow at Harvard, and Rockefeller Humanities Fellow at the Smithsonian, her research focuses on understanding and strengthening justice-based environmental governance in Southern Africa. A particular interest is in the relationship between knowledge and political life in the era of climate crisis, extinctions risks, and threats to habitability.

Lesley specialises in graduate curriculum development in relation to major research projects, and is the convenor of the M.Phil specialising in Environmental Humanities at UCT. She has supervised 20 Masters dissertations to completion, with one under examination and a further 4 in development. 

She has supervised 9 PhDs to completion with 2 under examination, and a further 8 in development. 


Graduate Curriculum Development: Anthropocene Social Sciences and Humanities

The departmental course code prefix for Anthropology has changed in the past decade. They include "ANS" (Anthropology, from 2022), "AXL" (School of African and Gender Studies, Anthropology and Linguistics, 2013-2021) and "SAN" (prior to 2013).

ANS 5414 Researching the Anthropocene: Designed and launched course, 2015-present. This is one of two core courses for the M.Phil specialising in Environmental Humanities. Masters and Doctoral graduates are required to take it, and design their dissertation proposals as part of the course requirements.

ANS 5417 Water, Society, Ecology: Designed and launched course online in partnership with Aarhus University, using both the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) and South African NQF. 25 students from a dozen countries took the course.  Alternates annually with ANS5503.

ANS 5503 Social Science of Soil Health and Toxicity: Designed, for launch in 2022 as part of DELTAS project. The course develops social sciences for the "Critical Zone" -- the space of habitability at any point on the Earth's surface. Alternates annually with ANS 5417.

ANS 5502 Earth Politics: Ecopolitical Transformations: Designed for launch in 2022 as part of a collaborative teaching programme with universities in East and Southern Africa, the course focuses on African ecopolitical struggles in the time of planetary crisis.  Alternates annually with ANS5416.

ANS 5416 Science, Nature, Democracy: This course, taught 2015-2020, focuses on science studies with a particular focus on science in southern Africa. It alternates annually with ANS5502.



Green, Lesley. 2020. Rock | Water | Life: Ecology and Humanities for a Decolonising South Africa. Durham NC: Duke University Press.

Green, Lesley and David Green. 2013. Knowing the day, knowing the world: Engaging Amerindian thought in Public Archaeology.  Tucson: Arizona University Press.

Green, Lesley (ed) 2013. Contested Ecologies: Dialogues in the South on Nature and Knowledge.  Cape Town: HSRC Press.

dos Santos, Uwet Manoel Antonio, David Green and Lesley Green. 2013. Waramwi: A Cobra Grande. Trans. Luisa Valentini. São Paulo: IEPE.

Book Manuscripts in Preparation

Green, Lesley; Frank Matose, Anselmo Matusse. Contested Ecologies 2:  African Environmental Governance Struggles. Based on dissertation chapters by EHS graduates, 2017-2021. Status: Full Proposal with Table of Contents accepted for peer review. Final Manuscript submission due 2022.

Journal Guest Editorships

Paterson, Barbara and Lesley Green (eds). 2015. Fishers Knowledge, Science and Compliance. Special section in Marine Policy Vol 60, pp.287-355, October 2015.

Green, Lesley (ed) 2009.  Knowledge Contests, South Africa, 2009. Special issue of Anthropology Southern Africa 32(1&2).

Recent Research Grants

  • 2021: INTPART International Partnership Grant with the Universities of Oslo, Aarhus, Santa Cruz and UCT (Environmental Humanities South). Role: Partner.
  • 2021: Heinrich Boell Stiftung, "Water Commons" documentary film project with Rehad Desai and Anita Khanna of Human Rights Media Trust / Uhuru Productions.
  • 2021: Seedbox: MISTRAS-FORMAS International Environmental Humanities Collaboratory. Lead University: Linkoping, Sweden. Role: Partner; Manager of Post-doctoral Fellow.
  • 2020: Publishers' Choice Outstanding Academic Titles Award for the book Rock Water Life: Ecology and Humanities for a Decolonial South Africa (Duke University Press).
  • September 2019: Leeds University Cheney Visiting Fellowship, Global Food and Environment Institute, Leeds University, UK
  • 2018: Fulbright Visiting Scholar,  Science and Justice Research Center at the University of California at Santa Cruz. 6-month sabbatical grant.
  • 2017: Danish Agency for Science and Higher Education: Partnership with Environmental Humanities at Aarhus University, Denmark to develop a graduate-level curriculum for a new course on "Water, Society, Ecology".

Recent Keynotes

2022. Invited Keynote: Social Sciences in the Critical Zone. Forum on Contemporary Theory, Goa, India. 24-25 February 2022.

2021. Pedagogies to Advance Sustainability in African Tertiary Education, UCT Sustainability Summit, September 2021. Role: Thematic track leader. Click here to access the position paper.

2021. Keynote: Urboretum: Centres and Peripheries -- Reconfiguring Post Covid 19 Urban Landscapes. Paris.

2019. Invited Public Lecture, The Sydney Environmental Humanities Lectures 2019: HumanNature: The Humanities in a Time of Environmental Crisis, at the Australian Museum in Sydney, jointly funded and coordinated by the University of New South Wales, Macquarie University, Western Sydney University, the University of Sydney and the Australian Museum.

2017. Ocean Regime Shift. Keynote 2: Sustaining the Seas International Conference, Sydney, Australia, December 2017.

2017. Moving Knowledge. Keynote: Canadian Social and Cultural Anthropology / International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences, Ottawa, Canada, May 2017.

2016. Closing speech: "Anthropocene Campus: Technosphere Edition", Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, April 2016.

Recent Public Engagement

Print Media (Abridged list)

Suraya Scheba, Faeza Meyer, Koni Benson, Meera Karunananthan, Vanessa Farr and Lesley Green. 2021. ‘New’ technology, old deal: Cape Town’s drip system plan will entrench water apartheid. Daily Maverick, 10 May 2021.

Petrik, Leslie; Jo Barnes, Kassim Badmus, Lesley Green. Potable water reuse: City of Cape Town must take a precautionary approach with necessary authorisations, monitoring and controls. Daily Maverick, 11 March 2021.

Gillespie, Kelly; Lesley Green, Carina Conradie, June Bam, Frank Matose, Vanessa Farr. 2021. Part 1: The Red Ants and the City of Cape Town. New Frame, 11 March 2021.

Gillespie, Kelly; Lesley Green, Carina Conradie, June Bam, Frank Matose, Vanessa Farr, 2021. Part 2: The Red Ants and the City of Cape Town. New Frame, 15 March 2021.

Green, Lesley. A Troll by any other name. Noseweek 250, 1 April 2021.

Green, Lesley. Mia Taylor: Facebook Troll Extraordinaire. Noseweek 249, 1 December 2020.

du Plessis, Pierre; Vanessa Farr; Lesley Green. 2020, Neither Markets Nor Militaries: On the critical importance of restoring the commons.  Allegra Laboratory. 

Green, Lesley and Vanessa Farr. When will Bheki Cele learn that guns and public health don't mix? Daily Maverick, 2 April 2020.

Farr, Vanessa and Lesley Green. Amid Escalating Gang Violence, the City of Cape Town Wages War on the Poor. Daily Maverick, 8 July 2020.

Green, Lesley. 2019. Towards a Politics for Soil Restitution. Daily Maverick, 5 February 2019.

Green, Lesley, Nikiwe Solomon, Leslie Petrik, Jo Barnes et al. 2019. Environmental Management Needs to be Democratised. Daily Maverick, 6 March 2019.

Farr, Vanessa and Lesley Green. 2019. “We speak for farmers not yet farming at scale.” Weekend Argus, Sunday Edition. 27 October 2019.

Websites and Social Media

WaterStories:, with Mycelium Collab, Leslie Petrik, Vanessa Farr and Nikiwe Solomon. 2020.

Sustainability as Pedagogy? Towards Tertiary Curricula in and of Africa. Developed for UCT Summit on the Sustainable Development Goals, with Nikiwe Solomon.

Environmental Humanities South, Facebook. ±1800 members globally.

Environmental Humanities South, UCT.

Journal Articles and Book Chapters

Links to most of my recent publications are listed on under Lesley J F Green.