Dr Rebekah Lee

Staff details

Position Senior Lecturer
Department History
Email r.lee (@gold.ac.uk)
Phone +44 (0)20 7919 7485
Dr Rebekah Lee

Academic qualifications

  • BA in History and Literature, Harvard University, 1995
  • MPhil in Economic and Social History, University of Oxford, 1999
  • DPhil in Economic and Social History, University of Oxford, 2002


BA second and third year
Health, Healing and Illness in Africa
Imagining Africa: Ideology, Identity and Text in Africa and the Diaspora
Of Revelation and Revolution: A Social and Political History of 20th Century South Africa

Special Subject
Sex and the African City: Gender and Urbanisation in Southern Africa

Islam and Christianity in Modern Africa

Areas of supervision

I would welcome research proposals on modern southern African social and cultural history; the history of African cities; African medical history; gender, migration and urbanisation in Africa; religion and identity, including the history of death in Africa; the history of the family in Africa and the diaspora.

Professional projects

Fellow of Royal Historical Society (UK), Member of African Studies Association (USA), African Studies Association (UK), Royal Africa Society (UK)

Featured work

  • Director and producer of documentary film, 'The Price of Death' (2012), winnder of the Richard Werbner Prize for Visual Ethnography, Royal Anthropological Institute International Festival of Ethnographic Film 2012
  • Huffington Post blog
  • Invited guest on 'Shoot the Messenger' programme, Vox Africa (Skye digital television], 17 March 2013
  • Invited speaker, BBC World Service radio programme, on rising costs of funerals in Africa, 26 July 2007

Research Interests

Dr Rebekah Lee's research concerns the social and cultural history of southern Africa. Her interests span issues of gender, migration, urbanization, health, religion, identity, and material culture. Dr Rebekah Lee's first book was a generational history of African women in apartheid Cape Town.

Dr Rebekah Lee is currently writing her second book on death and memory in modern South Africa, as part of a major AHRC-funded project, on the history of death in Africa from c.1800 to the present day. In 2012, Dr Rebekah Lee directed her first documentary, 'The Price of Death', on the township funeral business in South Africa. Much of Lee's research spans the disciplines of history, anthropology and development, and my work incorporates ethnographic methods, such as the use of oral sources and participant observation. 

Grants and awards

Richard Werbner Prize for Visual Ethnography, Royal Anthropological Institute International Festival of Ethnographic Film, 13-16 June 2013
Rita E. Hauser Fellow, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University, 2011-12
Co-investigator, 'Death in Africa: A history c.1800 to present day', Arts Humanities Research Council, Major Project Grant, 2006-12
Peake Learning and Teaching Award, Goldsmiths College, 2010
Wellcome Trust Small Grant, 2006-7
British Academy Conference Grant, 2005
University of London Central Research Fund Grant, 2005
Goldsmiths College Research Fund Grant, 2004

Editorial work

Advisory Board, Journal of Southern African Studies (member of Editorial Board from September 2012)



Lee, Rebekah . 2009. African Women and Apartheid: Migration and Settlement in Urban South Africa. London: I.B. Tauris (Tauris Academic Studies). ISBN 9781845118198

Edited Journal

Lee, Rebekah and Vaughan, Megan, eds. 2012. Special Issue on Death and Loss in Africa, African Studies, 71(2). 0002-0184

Lee, Rebekah and Vaughan, Megan, eds. 2012. Death and Loss in Africa, special issue of African Studies, African Studies, 71(2). 0002-0184

Book Section

Lee, Rebekah and Vaughan, Megan. 2020. Death in Africa: A History c.1800 to Present Day. In: Peter N. Stearns, ed. The Routledge History of Death since 1800. Abingdon: Routledge. ISBN 9780367137168

Lee, Rebekah . 2015. Entrepreneurship in South Africa's emergent township funeral industry. In: Ute Röschenthaler and Dorothea Schultz, eds. Cultural Entrepreneurship in Africa. London: Routledge, pp. 121-138. ISBN 9781138851665


Lamont, Mark and Lee, Rebekah . 2015. Arrive Alive: Road Safety in Kenya and South Africa. Technology and Culture, 56(2), pp. 464-488. ISSN 0040-165X

Lee, Rebekah . 2012. Death in slow motion: Funerals, ritual practice and road danger in South Africa. African Studies, 71(2), pp. 195-211. ISSN 0002-0184

Lee, Rebekah and Vaughan, Megan. 2012. Introduction: Themes in the Study of Death and Loss in Africa. African Studies, 71(2), pp. 163-173. ISSN 0002-0184

Lee, Rebekah . 2011. Death "on the move": Funerals, Entrepreneurs and the Rural-Urban Nexus in South Africa. Africa: The Journal of the International African Institute, 81(2), pp. 226-47. ISSN 0001-9720

Lee, Rebekah and Vaughan, Megan. 2008. Death and Dying in the History of Africa Since 1800. The Journal of African History, 49(3), pp. 341-59. ISSN 0021-8537

Lee, Rebekah . 2006. Hearth and Home in Cape Town: African Women, Energy Resourcing, and Consumption in an Urban Environment. Journal of Women's History, 18(4), pp. 55-78. ISSN 1042-7961

Lee, Rebekah . 2005. Reconstructing "Home" in Apartheid Cape Town: African Women and the Process of Settlement. Journal of Southern African Studies, 31(3), pp. 611-630. ISSN 03057070