Premesh Lalu

Field of Practice:



Solitude fellowship

City, Country:

Cape Town, South Africa


2022, 2023

Born in Cape Town/South Africa in 1967.

Professor Premesh Lalu completed his undergraduate, Honours, and Master’s degrees at the University of KwaZulu-Natal/South Africa and the University of the Western Cape/South Africa. He was awarded a prestigious MacArthur Foundation Fellowship to read for his PhD at the University of Minnesota/US, subsequently returning to the University of the Western Cape where he took up an Associate Professorship in History prior to being appointed director of the newly established Centre for Humanities Research (CHR), a position he held from 2008 to 2019. Under his leadership, the Centre for Humanities Research was awarded the »Department of Science and Innovation-National Research Foundation Flagship on Critical Thought in African Humanities«. He is also Principal Investigator on several grants from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation held in the CHR. In the final years of his directorship, he paved the way for the construction of the Greatmore Street Initiative in the Arts and Humanities on behalf of the CHR and the University of the Western Cape.

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. His articles have appeared in History and Theory, Journal of Southern African Studies, Critical Times, Kronos: Southern African Histories, Economic and Political Weekly, and the South African Historical Journal. His first book, The Deaths of Hintsa: Post-apartheid South Africa and the Shape of Recurring Pasts (2009) was included in the Alan Paton longlist in 2010.

Lalu is a board member of the International Consortium of Humanities Centres and Institutes, Advisory Board Member of the Käte Hamburger Kolleg in Munich/Germany, a juror of Akademie Schloss Solitude and former chairperson of the Handspring Trust for Puppetry in Education.