Academic Profiles

Prof Russel Viljoen

College of Human Sciences
School of Humanities
Department: History
Tel: 012 429 6730
Fax: 012 429 3221


  • BA (University of the Western Cape, 1989)
  • Higher Diploma in Education (University of the Western Cape, 1994)
  • BA Honours (University of the Western Cape, 1990)
  • MA (University of the Western Cape, 1993)
  • PhD (Leiden University, 2003)
  • MBA (University of South Africa, SBL, 2013)

NRF Rating


Field of Specialisation

  • Early and colonial societies at the Cape, South Africa
  • Medical history and history of disease (especially smallpox)
  • Khoikhoi and colonial identities
  • Khoikhoi music and art


  • Jan Paerl, a Khoikhoi in Cape Colonial Society, 1761-1851 (Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2006)

Journal articles

  • ‘“Revelation of a Revolution”: The Prophecies of Jan Parel; Alias Onse Liewen Heer, a Khoisan Prophet and Cape Rebel’, Kronos: Journal of Cape History, November, 21, 1994, pp.3-15.  
  • ‘Disease and Society: Cape Town, its People and the Outbreak of the Smallpox Epidemics of 1713, 1755 and 1767’, Kleio, XXVII, 1995, pp.22-45.
  • ‘Till Murder Do Us Part: The Story of Griet and Hendrik Eksteen’, South African Historical Journal, 33, November 1995, pp.13-32.
  • (with Heese, H), ‘The Trial and Sentence of Hans Jurgen Ketner: A German Scapegoat at the Cape?’, Asien, Afrika, Lateinamerika, 23 (6), 1995, pp.587-596.
  • ‘Khoisan Heritage and Identity’, South African Historical Journal, 35, November 1996, pp.140-145 (Seminar report)
  • ‘Making Sense of the Khoikhoi Cattle-Killing of 1788: An episode of Millenarianism in Khoikhoi Society’, Kronos: Journal of Cape History, 24, November 1997, pp.62-76.
  • ‘Medicine, Health and Medical Practice in Precolonial Khoikhoi society: An Anthropological-Historical Perspective’, History and Anthropology,11 (4), 1999, pp.515-536.
  • ‘Aboriginal Khoikhoi Servants and their Masters in Colonial Swellendam, South Africa, c.1745-1795’, Agricultural History, 75 (1), 2001, pp.28-51.
  • ‘“Smallpox War” on the Kimberley Diamond Fields during the 1880s’, Kleio, 35, 2003, pp.5-18.
  • ‘Indentured Labour and Khoikhoi “equality” before the law in Cape Colonial Society, South Africa: The case of Jan Paerl, c.1796’, Itinerario: International Journal on the History of European Expansion and Global Interaction, XXIX (3), 2005, pp.54-72.
  • ‘“Sketching the Khoikhoi”:  George French Angas and his Depiction of the Genadendal Khoikhoi Characters at the Cape of Good Hope, c. 1847’, South African Journal of Art History, 22 (2), 2007, p.277-290.
  • ‘“Soil Once His Own”: The Colonial and Christian World of Lebrecht Hans Ari: A Colonial Khoikhoi and Genadendal Convert, 1774-1864’, South African Historical Journal, 59, 2007, pp.204-222.
  • ‘“Alcohol and Art”: Charles Davidson Bell and his Caricatured Images of Colonial Khoikhoi in mid-19th century South Africa’, South African Journal of Art History, 23 (1), 2008, pp.190-202.
  • (with Mare, EA & Glatigny, PD) ‘“Inter se nulli fines”: The Khoikhoi in Seventeenth-century European Representations of the Land at the Cape of Good Hope’, South African Journal of Art History, 23 (1), 2008, pp.301-318.
  • (with Ross, R), ‘The 1849 Census of Cape Missions’, South African Historical Journal, 61 (2), 2009, pp.389-406.
  • ‘“Cape of Execution”: The Gallows at the Cape of Good Hope as represented in the colonial art of Johannes Rach and Lady Anne Barnard’, South African Journal of Art History, 26 (1), 2011, pp.136-149.
  • (with Fourie, J and Ross, R). ‘Literacy at South African Mission Stations’, Journal of Southern African Studies, 40 (4), 2014, pp.781-800.

Chapters in books:

  • “Moravian Missionaries, Khoisan Labour and the Overberg Colonists at the end of the VOC era, 1792-1795”, in Bredekamp, HC & Ross, R (eds), Missions and Christianity in South African History (Witwatersrand University Press, Johannesburg, 1995), 49-64.
  • “Making Sense of the Khoikhoi Cattle-killing of 1788: An episode of Millenianarism in Khoikhoi Society”, in Bank, A (ed), The Proceedings of the Khoisan Identities and Cultural Heritage Conference (Cape Town, 2002, also available on CD), 195-204.
  • “Disease, Doctors and De Beers Capitalists”: Smallpox and Scandal in Colonial Kimberley, South Africa, during the Mineral Revolution and British Imperialism, 1882-1883, in Bala, P, (ed.) Biomedicine as a Contested Site: Some Revelations in Imperial Contexts (Rowman & Littlefield, Lexington Books, 2009), 153-169.
  • “Medicine, Medical Knowledge and Healing: Khoikhoi, Slaves and Colonists at the Cape of Good Hope,” in Bala, P (ed), Medicine and Colonialism: Historical Perspectives in India and South Africa  (Pickering and Chatto, London, 2014), pp 41-59.

Professional positions, fellowships & awards

  • Rated as an established researcher (C2) by the South African National Research Foundation (NRF)
  • Ford Foundation Scholarship 1991
  • Mellon Award: University Graduate Fellowship 1992
  • The Malcolm Klein Trust Award 1993
  • Principal’s Prize for Young Researchers, UNISA 1996
  • Principal’s Prize for Young Researchers, UNISA 2002
  • Chancellor’s Prize for Research, UNISA 2008
  • Oxford University Research Fellowship, Oppenheimer Fellow, Queen Elizabeth House, Oxford, April-July 2000
  • Huygens Research Fellowship, Leiden University (Research School of Asian, African and Amerindian Studies (CNWS), September-December 2001
  • Towards A New Age of Partnership (TANAP), A Dutch-Asian-South African Heritage Project (Research Fellowship and Scholarship: Doctoral  studies at CNWS, Leiden University, September 2001-December 2003)


  • Viljoen, R, Ross, R, & F, Vernal, The Census of Cape Mission stations, 1849
  • Social history of Khoikhoi music at the Cape of Good Hope
  • The Khoikhoi in 18th century South Africa