Zimitri Erasmus

Creolisation, ‘Indigenisation’, Ethno-masquerade


I argue for a conception of creolisation as a critical praxis first because it allows one to account for the historical changes and specificities that (re)configure cultural formations over time. Second, because creolisation counters narratives of ‘origins’, ‘purity’, and fixity that inform ethnological reasoning. Third, it foregrounds the unpredictability of political relations that emerge from histories of violence embedded in social and cultural change at the same time as it counters attempts to reduce social life and struggle to violence. In so doing, creolisation accounts for generative human imagination amidst histories of violence.



Zimitri Erasmus is an Associate Professor in Anthropology at Wits University, Johannesburg.  Her book, Race Otherwise: Forging a New Humanism for South Africa (2017), was nominated for two awards. It brings together the full amplitude of her thinking about the ways in which ‘race’ works and it continues her long scholarly engagement with the commonly held assumption that ‘race’ is self-evident and permanent. She is the recipient of several international fellowships. Among her key interests are innovative, socially just pedagogies that engage Writing Intensive and Epistolary methods. Her most recent publication relevant to this gathering is ‘Sylvia Wynter’s Theory of the Human: Counter-, not Post-humanist’ in Theory, Culture & Society 2020, 37 (6).