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Department of Anthropology & Archaeology

Prof. Johann Kriel

(MA, D.Phil) (University of Pretoria)

Tel.: +27 12 4202598


Office: Human Sciences Building 8-1




Johann Kriel completed an Honours degree in Anthropology and one in Applied Anthropology before doing a Master’s degree on indigenous administrative and judicial systems in the eastern parts of Free State Province (South Africa).  In his doctoral thesis he focused on indigenous disease concepts in the Sekhukhune District of Limpopo Province.  He started his career as a researcher at the Human Sciences Research Council and then returned to his alma mater to teach in the Department of Anthropology and Archaeology where he is currently Assistant professor. He has done research in the field of Medical Anthropology as well as the Anthropology of Development, has assessed development projects in KwaZulu-Natal and has done contract research on the functioning and development potential of indigenous authorities in the Lowveld areas of Limpopo Province and Mpumalanga.


Current research interests

Indigenous healers, possession cults, experiences of death and dying in Southern Africa, cultural nostalgia and amnesia, post-apartheid identity politics


Select publications

Kriel, J.D. 1980.  Ethno-historical studies and ethnography (Etnies-historiese studie en etnografie).  S.A. Jnl. Ethnol, 3(1).

Kriel, J.D. 1982.  The origin and distribution of Tlokwa tribes in the eastern Free State before the advent of the difaqane (Die herkoms en verspreiding van Tlokwastamme in die Oos-Vrystaat voor die aanvang van die Difaqane).  S.A. Jnl. Ethnol., 5(1).

Hartman, J.B. & Kriel, J.D.  1984.  The anthropological study of Indigenous Law (Inheemse regsisteme as antropologiese studieterrein). S.A. Jnl. Ethnol., 7(1).

Van Wyk, J.J. & Kriel, J.D. 1985. Initiation of South Sotho boys (Inisiasie van Suid-Sotho seuns)  S.A. Jnl. Ethnol., 8(4).

Hartman, J.B. & Kriel, J.D. 1990. Inheritance of goods among the Tsonga of Mhala (Vererwing van goedere by die Tsonga van Mhala).  S.A. Jnl. Ethnol.,  13(2).

Kriel, J.D. & Hartman, J.B. 1991 Khindlimukani Vatsonga.  Pretoria:Promedia.

Kriel, J.D.  1998.  More than just healing:  North Sotho dingaka and their services (Meer as net genesing van siekte: Noord-Sotho dingaka en hul dienste).  S.A. Jnl. Ethnol., 21(3).

Kriel, J.D. & Mapogole, M.M.  1998.  To be clogged-up by an impure woman: a male malady among the North Sotho (Om verstop te wees deur ‘n onrein vrou: ‘n manlike ongesteldheid by die Noord-Sotho).  S.A. Jnl. Ethnol., 21(4).

Kriel J.D.  2000.  North Sotho views with regard to age, diet and environment related illnesses (Noord-Sotho-opvattinge oor ouderdom, dieet- en omgewingsverwante ongesteldhede).  S.A. Jnl. Ethnol.,  23(4).

Kriel, J.D.  2002.  AIDS:  An African perspective? (VIGS: ‘n Afrikaperspektief?). Jnl. of Ethical Medicine, 3(1).


Courses taught

Introduction to Anthropology

Research Methodology and Social Impact Assessment

Anthropology of Religion

Medical Anthropology

History of Anthropology

Culture, health and illness

Development theory

Needs and capacity analysis

The development process

Self-reliant local economic development (SLED)

Community Risk Reduction


Membership of professional associations

Founding member of the Former Association of Cultural Anthropologists

Anthropology Southern Africa. Member since 2005.

European Association of Social Anthropologists. Member since 2006.

Current Master’s and DPhil students
Vuyo Njokweni. The role of micro-financing in improving the livelihood and capabilities of poor rural women in Limpopo Province (South Africa).
Elias Ramarumo. The impact of changes in the policies and priorities of funding agencies on Non-Governmental Organizations in the Vhembe District, Limpopo Province, South Africa.
Adelaide Komo. Towards clean energy options: a study of energy use patterns in Zamdela (Sasolburg, Free State Province).
Elmary Buis. Surviving transition in the Giyani District: the role of small-scale rural development projects in a period of rapid socio-political and economic change.
Seshunkoane Mathabatha. The impact of community development projects on rural women: a study of the Rural Women Association in Sekhukhune District (Limpopo Province, South Africa.