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Staff Profile

Associate Professor Julia Hornberger

QualificationsBA, MA, PhD
Phone 0117174407
Organisational Unit Social Anthropology

J ulia Hornberger is a social anthropologist who works on questions of policing. She started out with a focus on policing and human rights in Johannesburg. In this work she has been tracing how South Africa’s burgeoning rights regime on the one hand, and the various interactions with a population living under circumstances of great uncertainty and insecurity on the other hand, have transformed policing in post-apartheid years. In 2011 she published her book “Human Rights and Policing. The Meaning of Violence and Justice in the everyday Practice of Policing in Johannesburg” with Routledge. This research interest continues to occupy her. Especially as South Africa seems to enter into a new area of conflict and confrontations between people and the police. More recently, she has shifted her focus towards the policing of health and intellectual property rights. In a project on international crime control and the circulation of fake and substandard medication she explore the ways in which questions of health, security and the market intersect around the figure of the pharmaceutical copy, globally and in South Africa in particular. She studied Anthropology in Göttingen (Germany), Amsterdam and Leiden (The Netherlands). She received her PhD from the Faculty of Law of the University of Utrecht, the Netherlands. For five years she was a researcher at the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research (WISER) before she went to teach in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Zurich. In Zurich she set up a research project on Transnational Crime Control in Africa, which included her own research on the ‘Fight against Counterfeit Medication’, PhD positions for junior scholars in Germany and South Africa, and a collaboration with the Chair of Anthropology at the University of Konstanz. The project is receiving generous funding by the German Research Foundation (DFG) and falls under the umbrella of the Special Priority Program 1448 on Adaptation and Creativity in Africa ( She is also co-convenor of the Johannesburg Workshop in Theory and Criticism In the Department she is the Postgraduate-Coordinator

Julia Hornberger is teaching courses in the field of legal anthropology and the anthropology of human rights, crime and policing, anthropology of intellectual property, anthropology of the state, medical anthropology, the anthropology of medicine and pharmaceuticals, development studies.


2011. Policing and Human Rights. The Meaning of Violence and Justice in the Everyday Policing o f Johannesburg. Law, Development and Globalisation Series. London: Routledge. (soft-cover edition released in September 2013)


Peer Reviewed Articles:

2014. We Need a Complicit Police. Political Policing Now and Then. SA Crime Quarterly, 48 (June): 17-24.


2013. From General to Commissioner to General. The State of Popular Policing in South Africa. Law and Social Inquiry. 38 (3): 598–614 


 2010. Human Rights and Policing: Exigency or Incongruence? Annual Review

 of Law and Social Science, 6: 259-83


2004. ‘My Police – Your Police’. The Informal Privatisation of the Police in the

Inner City of Johannesburg. African Studies, 63 (2): 213-30.


2003.‘Mama bat Papa’ De Loir Sur la Violence Domestique a Sophiatown. Johannesburg Politique Africaine 91: 83-99.


1998. Die Kraft des Tratschens. Versuch einer Definition. Etnofoor, 11(2): 7-24.


Peer Reviewed Chapters


2016. Policing Counterfeit Medication. In Lenore Manderson, Anita Hardon and Elizabeth

Cartwright. Vital Signs - Medical Anthropology in the 21st Century. London: Routledge (forthcoming).


2015. On Complicity. In Didier Fassin (ed) Writing the World of Policing. The Difference Ethnography Makes (forthcoming).   


2015. The Belly of the Police. In Oliver Owen and Jonny Steinberg (eds) Policing in Africa, London: Hurst (forthcoming).  


2013. “God Moves Big Time in Sophiatown.” Community Policing and ‘The Fight against Evil’ in a Poor Johannesburg Neighbourhood. In, Kebeet von Benda-Beckman, Franz von Benda-Beckmann and Martin Ramstedt (eds) Religion in Dispute, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillian. 


2009. Ma-Slaan-Pa Dockets. Negotiations at the Boundary between the Private

 and the Public. In Giorgio Blundo and Pierre-Yves Le Meur (eds) Governance of Daily

Life in Africa. Leiden: Brill Press, pp 171-204.


2009.Translating Human Rights: A Police-Migrant Encounter

in Johannesburg”. In Steffen Jensen and Andrew Jefferson (eds) State Violence and Legal

Practices: Contested Authority in Transitional Societies, London: Routledge, pp 79-101.


2008. Policing Xenophobia - Xenophobic Policing: A Clash of Legitimacy. In Shireen Hassim and Eric Worby (eds) Go Home or Die Here: Violence, Xenophobia and the Reinvention of Difference in Southern Africa, Johannesburg: Wits University Press, pp 133-43.


2008. Nocturnal Johannesburg. In Achille Mbembe and Sarah Nuttall (eds), Johannesburg - The Elusive Metropolis, Duke Press 2008, pp 285-96.


Research Reports


2009. Beyond Good Cop/Bad Cop. Understanding Informality and Police Corruption in

South Africa. Johannesburg: Forced Migration Studies Programme (together with

Darshan Vigneswaran).


2011. Policing the Beat. Music Piracy in Downtown Johannesburg. Johannesburg:

African Centre for Migration and Society (together with Darshan Vigneswaran and

Masibulele Yaso).


2012. From Drug Safety to Drug Security. The Policing of Counterfeit Medications.

Johannesburg: African Centre for Migration and Society (together with Erma Cossa).


2012. The Combat against Human Trafficking in South Africa: Legislative Sovereignty

and Popular Implementation. Johannesburg: African Centre for Migration and Society

(together with Masibulele Yaso).