Danelle van Zyl-Hermann is a social and cultural historian of twentieth and twenty-first century South Africa, interested in the entanglement of race and class; the identities, experiences and agency this produces; and how this is shaped by the relevant structural and state context. She studied at the universities of Stellenbosch, Tübingen, and Leiden, before reading for her PhD in History at the University of Cambridge as a Gates Cambridge scholar. Her dissertation posited that considerations of class are neglected in scholarship on whites in late and post-apartheid South Africa.

As an NRF postdoctoral fellow at the UFS, Danelle is completing a monograph which relates her PhD findings on white working-class organisation, identity and politics, to structural shifts occurring globally since the 1970s amid the rise of neoliberal capitalism. At the UFS, she also supervises MA and PhD theses on aspects of the political, economic and social history of twentieth century South Africa, Zimbabwe and Zambia. In 2017, she started a new project with UFS colleague Dr Duncan Money which brings together scholarship on ordinary whites, including workers and the poor, from across Southern Africa to challenge existing assumptions about the relationship between white identity and class position under systems of white supremacy.

In 2018/2019, she will be attached to the Department of History at the University of Basel, Switzerland, as an ESKAS postdoctoral fellow. Here, she will be developing a new project on the politics of race and class in apartheid-era urban development.


D van Zyl, ‘“O, Boereplaas, geboortegrond!” Afrikaner nostalgia and the romanticisation of the platteland in post-1994 South Africa’, South African Journal of Cultural History, 22(2), 2008, 126-148.

D van Zyl-Hermann, “Gij kent genoegt mijn gevoelig hart” Emotional life at the occupied Cape of Good Hope, 1798-1803’, Itinerario, 35(2), 2011, 63-80. 

M Mariotti and D van Zyl-Hermann, ‘Policy, practice and perception: Reconsidering the efficacy and meaning of statutory job reservation in South Africa, 1956-1979’, Economic History of Developing Regions, 29(2), 2014, 197-233.

D van Zyl-Hermann, ‘Baas or Klaas? Afrikaner working-class responses to transformation in South Africa, ca.1977-2002’, International Labor and Working-Class History, 86, Fall 2014, 142-158.

D van Zyl-Hermann, ‘History made Human: Confronting the unpalatable past through biographical writing in post-apartheid South Africa’, African Historical Review, 47(2), 2015, 115-131.

D van Zyl-Hermann, ‘White workers in the late apartheid period: A report on the Wiehahn Commission and Mineworkers’ Union’s archival collections, South Africa’, History in Africa, 43, Spring 2016, 229-258.

D van Zyl-Hermann and J. Boersema, ‘Introduction’ (to a part special issue on ‘The politics of whiteness’), Africa, 87(4), 2017, 651-661.

D van Zyl-Hermann, 'Make Afrikaners great again! National populism and the new white minority politics in post-apartheid South Africa’, Ethnic and Racial Studies. Forthcoming, 2019.

D van Zyl-Hermann, ‘Race, class and rumour in late and post-apartheid South Africa: The case of Arrie Paulus’, Social History. Forthcoming, 2019.


  • 2006 National Research Foundation (NRF) Grant holder’s scholarship for BA (Honours) post-graduate study in History, Stellenbosch University
  • 2007 Rhodes Bursary, Department of History, Stellenbosch University
  • 2007 University of Tübingen/Baden-Württemberg Stipendium
  • 2007-2009 ENCOMPASS full scholarship for MPhil study in History, Leiden University
  • 2010-2014 Gates Cambridge Trust full scholarship for doctoral study in History, University of Cambridge
  • 2010-2013 Various grants towards funding PhD research at the University of Cambridge, including from the Royal Historical Society and Smuts Memorial Fund
  • 2018 National Research Foundation Innovation Postdoctoral Fellowship, University of the Free State
  • 2018-2019 Swiss Government Excellence Scholarship (ESKAS) for postdoctoral research, University of Basel

Public engagement

'The emotional historian?” Opinion piece for University of Cambridge Research Discussion,  28 February 2012.

'Briefargief van “een zwaare droom”’ in BY (published nation-wide in Die Burger, Beeld and Volksblad),  19 October 2013. 

2013 History for Schools volunteer, Faculty of History, University of Cambridge



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