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Lesley Green

In research and teaching since 2007, my work has explored the challenges of decoloniality and the indigenous knowledge movement for the sciences and social sciences in Southern Africa. That work led to the publication of Contested Ecologies: Dialogues in the South on Nature and Knowledge (Human Sciences Research Council Press, 2013) and  Knowing the Day, Knowing the World: Engaging Amerindian Thought in Public Archaeology (Arizona University Press, 2013). 

My current research and supervisions attend to  fisheries policy, fracking, baboon-human relations, lobster ecology, rhino conservation, water management and plant medicine: looking specifically at the interconnections of modernist thought, coloniality, and the production of scientific authority. The work that graduates and I do in these fields traverses multiple modes of knowledge, both trans-disciplinary and extra-disciplinary, to explore case studies of how and where scientific knowledge and democratic decision-making connect — or not! The core course in which I teach this material is AXL5416: Science, Nature, Democracy.

A second and related interest is on climate disorder and life. “Anthropocene studies” is a new field in the social and natural sciences and in the environmental humanities, and one that enables us to think across disciplines in provocative and transformative ways — such as to explore the geological effects of law or personality disorders; or the effects of commercial agriculture on soil microbes and thus human futures; or the disjuncture between the timeframes of legal regulation (typically one generation, or a few electoral cycles) and the effects of fracking or nuclear waste which range from hundreds of thousands of years to perpetuity.  The core course in which I teach this material is AXL5414: Researching the Anthropocene. 

Working towards building southern theory in the environmental humanities, I head the transdisciplinary team "Environmental Humanities South" at the University of Cape Town, funded by the Andrew W Mellon Foundation and the South African National Research Foundation. The team includes colleagues in the Humanities and Social Sciences, Law, Sciences, Engineering, and Health Sciences, along with many graduate students from  across the global south.  For more information on that project, please see www.envhumsouth.uct.ac.za

Major Awards

  • January 2016: The Humanities in the Anthropocene, National Catalytic Project of the National Institute of Humanities and Social Sciences (PI)

  • July 2015: The Making of an Environmental Public, from the Human Social Dynamics fund of the National Research Foundation (PI)

  • July 2013-December 2016: Environmental Humanities Initiative in the Faculty of Humanities, University of Cape Town.

  • August 2009-September 2011: John F Sawyer Seminar grant from the Andrew W Mellon Foundation, for a three-year seminar series titled ‘Knowledges, Ways of Knowing, and the Post-Colonial University’ at the University of Cape Town.

  • January 2010-December 2011: Research Associate of the Africa Knowledges Project in the Programme for the Enhancement of Research Capacity (PERC), University of Cape Town.

  • January 2010-December 2013: SeaChange Fund of the National Research Foundation (PI).

  • January 2007-December 2008: Indigenous Knowledge Systems Research Grant from the National Research Foundation (PI).

  • May 2006-December 2010: Brazil-South Africa grant from the National Research Foundation of South Africa, for research on Palikur knowledges in Amapá, Brazil (PI).

  • September 2005 – January 2006: Mandela Fellowship, WEB du Bois Institute, Harvard University.

  • January – May 2005: Rockefeller Humanities Fellowship in Retheorising Cultural Heritage, at the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, Washington DC.

  • July 2001 to July 2003: Wenner Gren International Collaborative Research Grant (PI) for research on public archaeology in the area Indígena do Uaçá, Amapá, Brazil.


Books and Edited Collections


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

  • Uwet Manoel Antonio dos Santos, David Green and Lesley Green. 2013. Waramwi: A Cobra Grande. Sao Paulo: IEPE.

Edited Collections

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

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

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

  • Matt Durington and Lesley Green (eds) 2007. New directions in media anthropology. Special issue of Critical Arts 21(2).

  • Lesley Green (ed) 2004. Space and the body. Special issue of Anthropology Southern Africa 27(1&2)1-3.

Journal Articles and Book Chapters

  • Links to most of my recent publications are listed on www.academia.edu under Lesley Green.

  • Green, LJF. Forthcoming. Resilience: A Manifesto for a Humanities of the Anthropocene. Resilience 1(1).

  • Green, LJF. Accepted. Ecology, race and the making of environmental publics in South Africa: A dialogue with Silent Spring, fifty years on. Resilience.

  • Duggan, Greg; Lesley Green; Astrid Jarre. Submitted. ‘Thinking like a fish’: adaptive strategies for coping with vulnerability and variability emerging from a relational engagement with Kob. MAST.

  • Duggan, Greg; Jennifer Rogerson, Lesley Green, Astrid Jarre. Under Review. Opening dialogue and fostering collaboration: Thinking through fisheries research and management via relationality. South African Journal of Science.

  • Green, LJF. Forthcoming. Ethical Archaeologies: Researching the Ivegepket sambaqui in Amapa, Brazil. Post Colonialism, Ethics and Archaeology, ed. Cristobal Gnecco and Larry Zimmerman. Springer.

  • Green, LJF. Accepted. Retheorising indigenous knowledge: Perspectives from the post-humanities. For: volume edited by Brenda Cooper and Robert Morrell, UCT.

  • Paterson, Barbara; Marieke van Zyl, Astrid Jarre, Lesley Green. Accepted. Where have all the fish gone? Science, Fishers’ knowledge and the question of recovery in the Namibian Industry. For: volume edited by Brenda Cooper and Robert Morrell, UCT.

  • Green, LJF. 2013. The Day World Hawkri and its Topologies: On Palikur Alternatives to the Idea of Space,in Contested ecologies: Dialogues on Nature and Knowledge in the South. Editor: Lesley Green. Cape Town: HSRC Press.

  • Anderson, Tarryn Anne; Kelsey Draper, Greg Duggan, Lesley Green, Astrid Jarre, Sven Ragaller, Jen Rogerson, Marieke van Zyl. 2013. Conservation Conversations: Things and their Logics in Fisheries Management of Southern Africa in Contested ecologies : Dialogues in the South on Nature and Knowledge. Editor: Lesley Green. Cape Town: HSRC Press.

  • Sowman, M; D Scott, L Green, M Hara, M Hauck, K Kirsten, B Paterson, S Raemaekers, K Scott, J Sunde, J Turpie. In press.Shallow waters: social science research in the marine environment African Journal of Marine Science.

  • Green, LJF. 2012. Beyond South Africa’s ‘indigenous knowledge’ versus ‘science’ wars. South African Journal of Science.2012;108(7/8), Art. #631, 10pp.

  • Green, LJF and D R Green. 2010 (2011). The Rain Stars, the Sun’s Path, the Horizon and the World’s River: Astronomical narratives from the Rio Urucauá. Tipiti: The Journal of the Society for the Anthropology of Lowland South America, volume 8(2)article 3, pp.1-67. Available online December 2011. 67pp.

  • Green, Lesley. 2009. ‘Knowledge contests, South Africa, 2009’. Guest editor’s introduction in special issue of Anthropology Southern Africa 32(1&2)2-7.

  • Green, LJF and D R Green. 2009. ‘Space, Time and Story Tracks: Contemporary practices of topographic memory in the Palikur territory of Arukwa, Amapá, Brazil’, in Ethnohistory, 58(1)

  • Green, Lesley. 2008. ‘Anthropologies of Knowledge and South Africa’s Indigenous Knowledge Systems Policy.’ Anthropology Southern Africa 31(1)48-57.

  • Green, Lesley. 2008. ‘Challenging Epistemologies: Exploring knowledge practices in Palikur astronomy.’ Special issue on the future of indigenous knowledge, Futures 40(9)41-52.

  • Green, Lesley. 2008. ‘Indigenous Knowledge’ and ‘Science’: Reframing the debate on knowledge diversity. Archaeologies: Journal of the World Archaeological Congress vol 4(1)144-163.

  • Green, Lesley. 2008. ‘Indigenous Knowledge’ and the Sciences: Towards a research agenda.’ In South African Keywords II, edited by Nick Shepherd and Steven Robins. Cape Town: Jacana. p.132-142.

  • Green, Lesley. 2007. ‘Cultural Heritage, Archives & Citizenship: Reflections on using Virtual Reality for presenting different knowledge traditions in the public sphere’, Critical Arts, 21(2)101-122.

  • Durington, Matt and Lesley Green. 2007. ‘Journeys, experiments, innovations: New directions in media anthropology’. Critical Arts, 21(2)i-ix.

  • Green, Lesley. 2007. ‘South Africa’s Indigenous Knowledge Policy of 2004: Challenges for the Postcolonial University’. Social Dynamics, 33(1)130-154.

  • Green, Lesley. 2005. ‘Ba pi ai?” – Rethinking the relationship between secularism and professionalism in anthropological fieldwork, Anthropology Southern Africa, 2005, 28(3&4)91-98.

  • Green, Lesley. 2004. ‘Space and the body: Rethinking the division between biological and sociocultural anthropology’ –Introduction to Special Issue of Anthropology Southern Africa. Anthropology Southern Africa 27 (1&2)1-3.

  • Green, Lesley and David R Green. 2003. ‘From chronological to spatio-temporal histories: Mapping heritage in Arukwa, Área Indígena do Uaçá , Brazil’ in History and Anthropology 14(3)283-295.

  • Fordred-Green, Lesley; David R Green and Eduardo Góes Neves. 2003. ‘Indigenous knowledge and archeological science: The challenges of public archeology in the Reserva Uaçá’ Journal of Social Archeology 3(2)366-397.

  • Fordred-Green, Lesley. 2003. ‘Raconteur, Jester, Listener, Survivor: Khaba Mkhize and the journalism of conflict in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.’ Published in Trickster's Way (1)2003, University of Texas.

  • Fordred-Green, Lesley. 2000. ‘Knots in the tokoloshe tale’ Current Anthropology, December 2000.

  • Fordred, Lesley. 1997. ‘Natal cockroaches fly: Khaba Mkhize and communitarian journalism in KwaZulu/Natal, South Africa’ in Late Editions 4: Perilous States ed. George Marcus. Chicago University Press.


Contact details

Office address: Room 5.16, AC Jordan Building

Telephone: 021 6503676

Email address: lesley.green@uct.ac.za

Consultation times: By arrangement