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Dept. of Anthropology | Wits University
Presentation: "Teaching Corruption"

Julia 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.


To declare Corruption a “Crime Against Humanity” is a bold move. It is also a very Nigerian move. Nigeria is well known to be one of the most corrupt countries, not only since David Cameron joked about its ‘fantastical corruptness’ to the Queen of England. So maybe Nigeria wants to correct its image, which Cameron by failing all diplomatic etiquette had tarnished so badly.