I am fascinated by how people consciously and unconsciously narrate their life histories. My academic career has involved the practise and teaching of oral history methodology. My PhD (from University of Essex) was on the Windermere/Kensington community and apartheid forced displacements and was completed in 1996. I began work in the Department in 1997 as coordinator of the Western Cape Oral History Project, and I also served as Director of the Centre for Popular Memory (CPM) from 2001 to 2012. I was a founder member of the Oral History Association of South Africa (OHASA) and Vice-President of the International Oral History Association (IOHA) from 2008 to 2010. My current research involves: (post)colonial oral histories of violence, and debates about trauma theory, memory, and psychoanalysis. I am also interested in parenting styles of trauma survivors, and how the child’s sense of self is intersubjectively framed and anti-referential psychic trauma is constituted across generations

Research Interests and Areas of Supervision:

  • (Post)colonial oral histories of violence
  • Trauma theory debates
  • Intergenerational family dynamics and trauma
  • African refugees
  • The politics of memory and heritage.

Select Publications:


  • Oral History, Community and Displacement: Imagining Memories in Post-Apartheid South Africa (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012).
  • (Co-edited with Renate Meyer and Felicity Swanson), Imagining the City: Memories and Cultures in Cape Town (Cape Town: HSRC Press, 2007).
  • Lost Communities, Living Memories: Remembering Forced Removals in Cape Town (Cape Town: David Philip Publishers, 2001).

Book Chapters

  • ‘Uncanny District Six: Removals, Remains and Deferred Regeneration’ in, Sarah De Nardi, Hilary Orange, Steven High and Eerika Koskinen-Koivisto (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Memory and Place (London: Routledge, 2020), pp. 34-41.
  • ‘Disappointed Remains: Trauma, Testimony and Reconciliation in Post-Apartheid South Africa’ in, Donald Ritchie (ed.) The Oxford Handbook of Oral History (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011), pp. 142-158.
  • ‘“No-one has allowed me to cry”: Trauma, Memorialization and Children in Post-genocide Rwanda’ in, Louise Purbrick, Jim Aulich and Graham Dawson (eds.) Contested Spaces: Sites, Representations and Histories of Conflict (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007), pp. 211-232.

Journal Articles

  • Critical empathy through oral histories after apartheid. Continuum, A Journal for Cultural and Media studies, Vol. 31, No. 5 (2017): pp. 660-670.
  • ‘Loose bits of Shrapnel’: War Stories, Photographs and the Pecularities of Postmemory. The Oral History Review Vol. 41. No. 1 (2014): pp. 108-131.
  • ‘Shooting at Shadows’: Private John Field, war stories and why he would not be interviewed. Oral History Vol. 41, No. 2 (2013): pp. 75-86.