Professor Karen Harris

Professor, Head of Department and Director of the University of Pretoria Archives

[email protected]

0120 420 2665


BA Hons (UStb), MA History (UStb), D Litt et Phil (History) Unisa, HED (UStb)

Short Biography:

Full professor in the Department of Historical and Heritage Studies lecturing in history as well as heritage and cultural tourism. She is also the Director of the University Archives. Chairperson of the Historical Association of South Africa (HASA), chief researcher of National Department of Tourism-UP research projects, an executive board member of the International Society for the Study of Chinese Overseas (ISSCO) and holds various editorial positions on both local and international academic journals. She holds a doctorate in history and specialises in the field of overseas Chinese studies as well as heritage tourism.

Research Areas:

Overseas Chinese studies within a South African context. This includes the social history of the Chinese from their earliest arrival within the colonial Dutch period, the free immigrants of the mid nineteenth century, the indentured labourers who were employed on the Witwatersrand mines as well as the Chinese in twentieth century South Africa. The latter focuses on those arriving from the last Chinese Empire, the People’s Republic of China as well as Taiwan. Heritage and Cultural research is concerned with cross-border tourism and its viability within southern Africa as well as film tourism as a new and emerging genre in southern Africa. 

Current Research:

Comparative work on the Chinese and other minority groups as well as biographical work on individual Chinese from both the nineteenth and twentieth century.

Recent Publications:

'The construction of "Otherness": A history of Chinese migrants in South Africa' in S. Cornelissen and Y. Mine (eds), Afro-Asian encounters: Migration and agency in a globalizing world, London: Palgrave Macmillan (forthcoming 2017).

'Rising Chinas and the history of the South African Chinese' in  B.P. Wong and C.B. Tan (eds) China Rise: Impacts on the Chinese overseas and their residing countries, Routledge Press, 2016.

'Warring societies? Towards a Community of Historians HASA and SAHS (1956 - 2014)', Historia, 59, 2, (2014).

'Paper Trail: Chasing the Chinese in the Cape, (1904-1933)', Kronos, 40, (2014).

'"Strange Bedfellows": Gandhi and Chinese passive resistance 1906-11', Journal of Natal and Zulu History, 2013.

'The Chinese in South Africa: Five Centuries, Five Trajectories', in C.B Tan (ed.) The Chinese in Diaspora, Routledge, 2012.

Published by Ian Macqueen

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