Dr. habil. Rita Kesselring
Research associate
Rita Kesselring
Philosophisch-Historische Fakultät
Departement Gesellschaftswissenschaften
Fachbereich Ethnologie

Research associate

Ethnologisches Seminar
Münsterplatz 19
4051 Basel


Rita Kesselring is Senior Lecturer at the Institute for Social Anthropology, University of Basel, Switzerland. Her work falls within the fields of economic, political and legal anthropology and she is interested in global interdependencies and the possibilities for civil society action with a regional focus on Southern Africa – Zambia and South Africa in particular – and Switzerland.

In August 2022, Kesselring will take up the position as Assoc. Professor of Urban Studies at the University of St Gallen, Switzerland.

Kesselring writes a book on global extractivism, urban development in a new mining town in Zambia's Northwestern Province and Switzerland's commodity trading sector (under advance contract with Stanford University Press). She is author of the book "Bodies of Truth: Law, Memory and Emancipation in Post-Apartheid South Africa" (Stanford University Press 2016), the editor of the J J Bachofen Lecture Series and was an editor for the journal Anthropology Southern Africa (2018-2020). She led and coordinated the interdisciplinary project Valueworks: Effects of Financialisation along the Copper Value Chain (funded by SNIS; 2017-2018), for which she was awarded the University of Basel's Engagement Award 2017.

During the 2018/2019 academic year, she was a Fung Global Fellow at the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies, Princeton University. In 2011, she spent 12 months as a visiting researcher at the Human Rights Institute, University of Connecticut, USA, financed by an SNF writing fellowship. She was also a visiting researcher at the Department of Anthropology, University of Cape Town in 2012 and at the Dag Hammarskjöld Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies, University of the Copperbelt, Zambia in 2015.

Kesselring studied in Zürich and Cape Town and obtained her PhD at the University of Basel in 2013. For her PhD thesis, she was awared the Young Scholars’ Award 2014 of the African Studies Association in Germany (VAD) and the Faculty Price 2013 of the Faculty of Humanities, University of Basel. From 2009 to 2010 and in 2012, she was a research fellow in the bilateral project “Safeguarding Democracy: Contests of Memory and Heritage” between the Chair of African History, University of Basel, and the History Workshop at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.

To listen to a New Books Network (NBN) author-interview episode on Rita Kesselring's book "Bodies of Truth", click here, and to a conversation on the search for truth hosted by the Swiss radio station SRF 2 Kultur, listen here (in German). A portrait of Rita Kesselring – A Participant Observer – in UNI NOVA, the research magazine of the University of Basel, is available here (in English) or here (in German). She has written for and contributed to a variety of media outlets, among them Le Temps, Nau.ch, Das Lamm, El Economista, SRF 2 Kultur, Radio Dreyeckland, Radio Kabangabanga (Zambia), Ö1-ORF (Austria), CapeTimes (South Africa), Diskurs:das Wissenschaftsnetz, Kurier, Der Standard (Austria), InfoSperber and Die Wochenzeitung (WoZ).