Jill E. Kelly is Assistant Professor of History at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, USA. She completed her Ph.D. in African History at Michigan State University in 2012.
Her first book, To Swim with Crocodiles: Land, Violence and Belonging in South Africa, 1800-1996, is a social and intellectual history of ukukhonza—a practice of affiliation that binds together subjects and chiefs to enable security—examined through the politics of the Table Mountain region in KwaZulu-Natal over the longue dureé. The book will be out in the United States with Michigan State University Press in 2018 and is currently under review for a South African edition. It offers new perspectives on South Africa’s transition-era civil war and the chieftaincy by considering what Africans knew and remembered about historical practices that governed connections between chiefs and subjects and how they used this knowledge to ensure social and physical security.
The book is grounded in a rich array of written and oral archives, including documents in family, private, provincial, and national archives in Pietermaritzburg, Durban, Pretoria, Johannesburg, and Ulundi; print media coverage; recorded oral tradition; and nearly 100 oral history interviews with Table Mountain residents.
Her research has been supported by an American Council of Learned Societies fellowship (2015) and the Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Abroad fellowship (2010). Her work appears in African Historical Review, Journal of Southern African Studies, and the edited collection Gendering Ethnicity in African Women’s Lives (University of Wisconsin Press).