Friends of Belinda Bozzoli will be heartbroken to learn that this lovely, energetic woman has succumbed to cancer.

This was confirmed today by the Democratic Alliance chief whip.

I extend my condolences to her husband, Charles van Onselen and their children.

This provides some background on Belinda.

Bozzoli, Belinda

Born in South Africa; daughter of Guerino Renzo (a vice chancellor of the University of Witwatersrand) and Cora Bertha Bozzoli; married Charles van Onselen; children: two sons, one daughter. Education: University of Witwatersrand, B.A.; University of Sussex, M.A., Ph.D., 1975.

University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa, head of sociology department, 1996-98, head of social sciences, 2001-03, currently professor of sociology and deputy vice-chancellor for research. Founding director, South Africa History Workshop. Associate fellow, Yale University, 1978-79; Oppenheim visiting fellow, Oxford University; fellow, Cambridge University; and fellow, Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales. Member of advisory board, National Archives; member of board, National Research Foundation.


Herskovits Award nomination, African Studies Association, 1992; Top Researcher Award, Human Sciences Research Council, for Women of Phokeng: Consciousness, Life Strategy, and Migrancy in South Africa, 1900-1983; A-Rating, National Research Foundation, 2006.


(Editor) Labour, Townships, and Protest, Ravan Press (Johannesburg, South Africa), 1979.

The Political Nature of a Ruling Class: Capital and Ideology in South Africa, Routledge & Kegan Paul (Boston, MA), 1981.

(Editor) Town and Countryside in the Transvaal, Ravan Press (Johannesburg, South Africa), 1983.

(Editor) Class, Community, and Conflict: South African Perspectives, Ravan Press (Johannesburg, South Africa), 1987.

(With Mmantho Nkotsoe) Women of Phokeng: Consciousness, Life Strategy, and Migrancy in South Africa, 1900-1983, Heinemann (Portsmouth, NH), 1991.

(Coeditor) History from South Africa, Temple University Press, 1991.

Theatres of Struggle and the End of Apartheid, Ohio University Press (Athens, OH), 2004.

Member of editorial board, Urban Forum and African Studies.


Belinda Bozzoli is a professor of sociology and a deputy vice-chancellor for research at South Africa’s University of Witwatersrand. Her father, Guerino Renzo Bozzoli, also served as a vice chancellor at the university. In addition to her position at the university, Bozzoli has been an associate fellow at Yale University, the Oppenheim visiting fellow at Oxford University, a fellow at Cambridge University, and a fellow at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales. Her research and writing focuses on the troubled history of South Africa and its apartheid past. She is the editor of Labour, Townships, and Protest; Town and Countryside in the Transvaal; Class, Community, and Conflict: South African Perspectives; and History from South Africa.

Bozzoli’s Women of Phokeng: Consciousness, Life Strategy, and Migrancy in South Africa, 1900-1983 is a detailed examination of the lives of twenty-two black South African women from one small town. These women left their home to work in the capital city of Johannesburg in the 1920s and 1930s, returning home only in their old age. Based on interviews with the women themselves, conducted by Mmantho Nkotsoe, Bozzoli’s book presents their stories without embel- lishment. “No sociological theory is foisted upon them,” as Diana Wylie wrote in the Journal of African History. Instead, the women tell honestly of their experiences as mothers, workers, and migrants. Wylie concluded: “The tales told by these 22 strong women bear a wealth of vital, even ethnographic, information about their difficult, but never pitiable, lives.”

Theatres of Struggle and the End of Apartheid, Bozzoli’s 2004 title, concerns South Africa’s six-month-long Alexandra rebellion of 1986. Taking place in the black settlement of Alexandra, the rebellion was not only against the official system of apartheid, but against certain specific policies in the local community. The rebellion also expressed itself in what Bozzoli argues was a highly theatrical manner. This theatricality took the form of people’s courts, witch killings, processions, and public meetings. Bozzoli “does not prettify the revolutionary moment,” according to Terence Ranger in Africa. In fact, Ranger found that Bozzoli “makes the South African urban revolution—or at least the Alexandra example of it—seem more like a real revolution.” Teresa Barnes in Africa Today praised “how deft Bozzoli’s writing can be, masterfully blending sure phrase with complex conceptual constructions.” Barnes concluded that this “rich, detailed tapestry of the 1986 Alexandra rebellion will challenge and reward scholars of urban history, rebellions, and revolts, and of contemporary South Africa.”