Rosalind C. Morris

Rosalind C. Morris

Research Interests

Research Concentrations

Social Theory and Philosophical Anthropology; Resource Extraction; Photography, Film and Media; Literature and Translation; Value and Capitalism; Ethnography and its Forms


Southern Africa, Southeast Asia; Thailand


Rosalind Morris’ work is addressed to the histories and social lives—including the deaths and afterlives—produced in the interstices of industrial and resource-based capitalism in the Global South. Those interests extend to the technological and media forms that attend or undergird these economies, and the forms of subjectivity produced in their midst. They also encompass the racialized and sexualized political logics and structures of desire accompanying these phenomena. Morris’ recent writings on these subjects are grounded in deep ethnographic research in Southern Africa, an engagement that now stretches over more than two and a half decades; her early work was centered on mainland Southeast Asia, especially Thailand.

Believing that ethnography is a mode of extended listening and learning from others, and that textual practice is a dimension of analytic practice, Morris's work encompasses a variety of forms and media, from scholarly articles to essayistic prose, and ethnographic monographs. Her media works included documentary film and expanded cinematic installation, as well as narrative film. Among her recent works are the documentary film, We are Zama Zama, which premiered as an official selection of the ENCOUNTERS International Documentary Film Festival in 2021, and the flexible multi-media installation, 'The Zama Zama Project,' which was an official selection of the Berlinale Forum Expanded in 2021. Morris's poetry has appeared in venues such as Ideas and Futures, Literary Imagination and the Capilano Review, among other publications. Artistic collaborations have been central to Morris's creative practice. In addition to her monograph on Clive van den Berg and her co-authored volumes with William Kentridge, her libretti, co-written with Yvette Christiansë, have been the bases of two operas by the Syrian-born composer, Zaid Jabri. 



University of Chicago, PhD in Anthropology, 1994
York University, MA in Anthropology, 1989

University of British Columbia, BA, 1986

2018. “Chiang Mai: Looking Back at the Nineties.” In Chiang Mai Social Installation, 84-91. Exhibition Histories. London: Afterall.

2018b. “Death and the Miner.” Berlin Journal 23: 6-11.

2017. “Conflicts and Crisis in the Faculties: The Humanities in an Age of Identity.” Social Research 84, no. 3: 601-633.

2017b. “Drawing the Line at a Tree-Search: The New Landscapes of William Kentridge.” In William Kentridge, October Files #21, edited by Rosalind Krauss, 113-146. Cambridge: MIT Press.

2017c. “Mediation, the Political Task: Between Language and Violence in Contemporary South Africa.” Supplement, Current Anthropology 58: 123-134.

2017d. The Return of Fetishism: Charles de Brosses and the Afterlives of an Idea. Translation and Translator’s Introduction by Daniel Leonard. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

2016. “Deconstruction’s doubt.” Hau: Journal of Ethnographic Theory 6, no. 1: 69-76.

2016b. ‘“Dialect and Dialectic in ‘The Working Day’ of Marx’s Capital.” Special issue, Boundary 2 43, no. 1: 219-248.

2016c. “Unpopular Politics: the Collective, the Communist and the Popular in Recent Thai History.” In The Idea of Communism, 3: The Seoul Conference, edited by Alex Taek-Gwang Lee and Slavoj Žižek, 212-239. New York: Verso. 

2016d. “Ursprüngliche Akkumulation: The Secret History of an Originary Mistranslation.” Special issue, Boundary 2 43, no. 3: 29-77.

2014. Coauthor with William Kentridge. Accounts and Drawings from Underground: East Rand Proprietary Mines, 1906. Chicago and Kolkata: Seagull, University of Chicago.

2014b. “On the Subject of Spirit Mediumship in the Age of New Media.” In Trance Mediums and New Media, edited by Heike Behrend, Anja Dreschke and Martin Zillinger, 25-55. New York: Fordham University Press.

2013. That Which is Not Drawn: William Kentridge in Conversation with Rosalind Morris. Kolkata: Seagull.

2013b. “Theses on the New Öffentlichkeit.” Grey Room 51: 94-111.

2011. The Art of Clive Van den Berg: Unlearning the Grounds of Art. Johannesburg: Goodman.

2011b. “Crowds and Powerlessness: Reading // Kabbo and Canetti with Derrida in (South) Africa.” In Demenageries/Animals, edited by Anne Berger and Marta Segarra, 167-212. Amsterdam: Rodopi.

2011c. “In the Name of Trauma: Notes on Testimony, Truth-Telling and the Secret of Literature in South Africa.” Comparative Literature Studies 48, no. 3: 388-416.

2011d. “Populist Politics in Asian Networks: Positions for Rethinking the Question of Political Subjectivity.” Special issue, Positions 20, no. 1: 37-65.

2010. “Accidental Histories, Post-Historical Practice? Re-reading Body of Power, Spirit of Resistance in the Actuarial Age.” Anthropological Quarterly 83, no. 1: 581-624.

2010b. "Can the Subaltern Speak?": Essays on the History of an Idea. New York: Columbia University Press.

2010c. “Style, Tsotsi-style and Tsotsitaal: The Histories, Politics and Aesthetics of a South African Figure.” Social Text 10328, no.2: 85-112.

2009. Photographies East: The Camera and its Histories in East and Southeast Asia. Durham: Duke University Press.

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