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Durham University

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Dr Rachel Johnson

Assistant Professor (Modern African History) in the Department of History

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Rachel Johnson’s research focuses on the contemporary history of South Africa and combines interests in gender theory and the symbolic aspects of politics with a focus upon the ‘history making’ practices of social movements, human rights groups and government institutions. Her PhD thesis (University of Sheffield, 2010) examined the position of young black women within student and youth, anti-apartheid politics in South Africa from 1976 onwards. Before taking up her post at Durham she worked as a Research Associate for two inter-disciplinary research projects: Gendered Ceremony and Ritual in Parliaments and Understanding Institutional Change: A gender perspective, for which she explored the gendering of the post-apartheid state through a focus on the South African Parliament and the Constitutional Court. She is currently working on a new project writing a history of the South African Parliament 1910-2010, which approaches the institution as a place for the making and remaking of politics in colonial, apartheid and democratic South Africa.

Research Groups

Department of History

Research Interests

  • Gender History
  • History of Parliaments
  • Modern South African History
  • Political Cultures
  • Public History


Chapter in book

  • Johnson, Rachel, Armitage, Faith & Spary, Carole (2014). 'The Speakership and Parliamentary Feminisation: The Emergence and Impact of First Female Speakers'; 'Disrupting Deliberation: Comparing Repertoires of Parliamentary Representation'; and ‘Pageantry as Politics: The State Opening of Parliaments’. In Democracy in Practice. Johnson, Rachel & Rai, Shirin Palgrave-Macmillan.

Edited book

Journal Article