David Bunn

Drum ceremony with gathered people watching.
Female lion in brush.
Single axle cart filled with wood pulled by two burrows.
Pair of rinos
David Bunn with armed guide.

Curriculum Vitae

Senior Research Scientist
Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory
Colorado State University
Fort Collins, CO 80523-1499 USA
Tel: +1 970 491 5571
Fax: +1 970 491 1965


Rhodes University, South Africa    English   B.A 1976

Rhodes University, South Africa    English     B.A. Hons 1977

Northwestern University, USA       English     M.A 1980

Northwestern University, USA       English and Cultural Studies  Ph.D 1987

Major Academic Appointments

February 2017 and currently: Senior Research Scientist, Natural Resources Ecology Laboratory, Colorado State University

January 2013 to January 2017: Director, Wits Knowledge Hub for Rural Development, Wits Rural Facility, University of the Witwatersrand

August 2012 to December 2012: Visiting Professor, University of North          Carolina, Chapel Hill.

September 2011 to May 2012: Residential award, Donnelley Fellowship,
National Humanities Center, North Carolina

September 2008 to 2010: Visiting Professor, University of Chicago

June 2000 to 2009: Professor and Chair, History of Art, University of the

January 2002-2003: Assistant Dean, Research, Faculty of Humanities, University of the Witwatersrand

January 2001 to 2006: Head of School, Wits School of Arts, University of the

January 1985-May 2000: Lecturer, Senior Lecturer, Professor and Chair, Department of English and Cultural Studies, University of the Western Cape;


Primary: Interdisciplinary Landscape Studies; Colonial Discourse; Political Ecology; Visual Theory and Cultural Anthropology; Environmental and Conservation History; National Parks.

Secondary: South African cultural studies


Seminar Papers and Presentations

Bunn, David N., Mark Auslander and Steven Midzi. 2015. “Edge Effects: Rumours and Uncanny Animals in the Boundary Management of South Africa‘s Kruger National Park.” 14th Annual Savanna Science Network Meeting. Skukuza, Kruger National Park 8-12 March.

.—. 2012. “Steady States: the Evolution of Conservation Management Landscapes in the Early Kruger National Park.” Seminar paper, Consilium on Southern Africa, Duke University.

—. 2007. “’Ashantee’: Mercantilism and the Prehistory of the Pose.” Conference paper, South African Visual Art Historians Conference, University of the Witwatersrand.

—. 2007. “Corporeal Prospects: Christine Dixie at the Standard Bank Gallery.” Opening address.

—. 2006. ‘True Lies.’ Address given at ‘Problematizing History and Agency’ conference, University of Cape Town Centre for African Studies.

—. 2005. “Babies and Bombs.” Everard Reed Award Exhibition Opening, Everard Reed Gallery.

—. 2005. “An Inside Edge.” Exhibition Opening, Mary Wafer and Kobi Labuschagne, Substation Gallery, University of the Witwatersrand.

—. 2005. “Painting as Integument.” Wits School of Arts Research Seminar Series,
University of the Witwatersrand.

—. 2005. “The Short List” Martienssen Award, Gertrude Posel Gallery, University
of the Witwatersrand.

—. 2004. “Vlakplaas: on the Problem of the Surface in Contemporary South African Art.” Invited paper, Franke Institute, University of Chicago.

—. 2002. “Human Traffic.” Opening address, Third year Fine Arts Exhibition, University Of the Witwatersrand.

—. 2002. “In the First Place.” Book Launch Opening Address, Justin Fox’s With Both Hands Waving. Bookehuis.

—. 2002. “Resources of Hope: Neville Dubow’s Imaging the Unimaginable.” Public lecture, Park Synagogue, Johannesburg.

—. 2000. “The Definite Article.” Opening address, Martiensen Exhibition, Gertrude Posel Galley.

—. “The Gates of Landscape.” Keynote address, “Boundaries, Space and Power”, University of the Witwatersrand Postgraduate Forum Third Annual Colloquium, 30th October 1999.

—. 1999. “An Unnatural State: Tourism, Water, and Wildlife Photography in the Early Kruger National Park.” Paper presented at “African Environments, Part and Present” conference, Journal of Southern African Studies and St. Antony’s College, Oxford University.

—. 1998. “Brittle Surfaces.” Opening address, “Land and Lives: Pioneer Black Artists,” exhibition at the South African National Gallery.

—. 1998. “Comaroff Country.” Invited paper, American Anthropological Association, Philadelphia.

—. 1998. “From ‘Crook’s Corner’ to ‘Thulamela’: Cultural Politics and Border Transgressions in the Northern Kruger National Park.” Voices, Values, and Identities Symposium, Berg-en-Dal, Kruger National Park.

—. 1998. “Waterhole Work: Drought, Politics, and Photography in the Kruger National Park, 1926- 1950.” African Studies Seminar, University of Chicago.

—. 1997. ‘The Angel of Photography.’ Opening address at ‘Zustandsberichte: German Photography in the East and West from the 50s to the 80s.’ William Fehr Collection Castle of Good Hope.

—. 1997. ‘Morbid Curiosities: Mutilation, Exhumation, and the Fate of Colonial Painting.’Visuality/Spectacle Lecture Series, Deutsches Haus, Columbia University New York.

—. 1997. “The Sleep of the Brave: Graves as Sites and Signs in the Colonial Eastern Cape.” Conference paper, Images and Empires: A Conference on Visual Representations In and Of Africa, Yale University.

—. 1996.‘Gray Matters: Works by Johan Louw.’ Opening address, exhibition of paintings by Johan Louw, South African Association of Arts.

—. 1996. “Speaking Volumes.” Opening address at Artists’ Books in the Ginsberg Collection, Exhibition at the Johannesburg Art Gallery 25 August 1996.

—. 1996. “Traumatic Histories: Blood, Gore, and Memorial in Eastern Cape Landscape Painting.” Public lecture, Department of Art History, University of the Witwatersrand.

—. 1996. “Visualising Change.” Art Educator’s Forum, Johannesburg Art Gallery.

—. 1995.”Fields of Force: Landscape, Image, and the New Interdisciplinary Studies.” Professorial inaugural address. University of the Western Cape.

—. 1995″ Figures Out of Bounds: Power and the Subjected Body in Contemporary Visual Theory.” Keynote Address, Eleventh Annual Conference of the South African Association of Art Historians. University of the Witwatersrand.

—, and Jane Taylor. 1994. “Displacements: Bodies and Spaces in a Liberated South Africa”. Conference on “Landscape and Identity in South African Art”, Northwestern University.

—. 1994. “To the Valley Below: Good Shepherds, Game Wardens, and the Uses of Settler Landscape Prospect”. Conference on “Landscape and Identity in South African Art”, Northwestern University.

—. 1994. “The Return of the Wound: Bodies and Spaces in a Future South African
Art Exhibition”. Seminar paper, University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg.

—. 1993. “`The Brown Serpent of the Rocks’: Bushman Arrow Toxins in the Dutch and British Imagination, 1735-1850.” Conference paper. Centre for African Studies, University of Cape Town.

—. 1992. “Displacements: Arguments for a New Theory of South African Landscape.” Centre for African Studies, University of Cape Town.

—. 1991. “`Some Alien Native Land’: Exile, Literary History, and the Somatic Landscape in Arthur Nortje and Bessie Head.” University of Chicago Committee on African Studies (Red Lion Seminar).

—. 1990. “Between Events and History: Writing the Present and the Past in Contemporary South African Literature.” Keynote Address, Humboldt State University, California.

—, and Jane Taylor. 1990. “Multiculturalism and the Liberal Imaginary.” University of the Western Cape Staff Seminar.

—. 1990. “‘Our Wattled Cot’: Mercantile and Domestic Space in Thomas Pringle’s African Landscapes.” Midwest Faculty Seminar Conference on Landscape and Power.” University of Chicago.

—. 1990. “Performance, Resistance, and the Mass Democratic Movement”. Western Michigan University April.

—. 1990. “The Novel and Cultural Struggle in South Africa.” Conference on South African Literature and Culture, Northwestern University. Collected in Writers From South Africa: Culture, Politics and Literary Theory and Activity in South Africa Today. Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1989.

—. 1988. “Salman Rushdie.” Weekly Mail Book Week.

—. 1986. “Embodying Africa: Woman and Romance in Colonial Fiction.”
Centre for African Studies, University of Cape Town.

—. 1982. “Borders, Boundaries, and the Narrative Mechanism of Heart
of Darkness.” Seminar presentation, School of Criticism and Theory, Chicago.

Articles and Books

Steelman, T., Nichols, E. G., James, A., Bradford, L., Ebersöhn, L, Scherman, V., Omidire, F., Bunn, D. N. Twine, W., McHale, M.R. 2015. “Practicing the science of sustainability: the challenges of transdisciplinarity in a developing world context.”Sustainability Science: 1-19.

McHale, M.R., Pickett, Steward T.A., Barbosa, O., and Bunn, D. N. et al. 2015. “The New Global Urban Realm: Complex, Connected, Diffuse, and Diverse Social-Ecological Systems.” Sustainability 7: 5211-5240.

McHale, M.R., Pickett, S.T.A., Bunn, D. N., Twine, W.  2013.  “Urban Ecology in a Developing World:  Why Advanced Socio-Ecological Theory Needs Africa.”  Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 11(10): 556-563.

Bunn, D. N. 2013. “Sitting For the Post-Mortem Portrait.” Johannesburg Salon, May.

Bunn, D. N. 2008.  “Art Johannesburg and Its Objects.” In Achille Mbembe and Sarah Nuttall, eds. Johannesburg: The Elusive Metropolis. Durham: Duke University Press.

Bunn, D. N. 2007. “A Sidelong Glance: Christine Dixie’s Thresholds.”  In Corporeal Prospects. Catalogue, Standard Bank Gallery, July.

Bunn, D. N. 2007. “This Is Not A Window.” In exhibition catalogue, Alexandra Ross: Viewpoint. Johannesburg : Everard Read Gallery.

Bunn, D. N. 2007. “Toppled : Johann Louw’s Reluctant Embodiments.” Catalogue essay. Johann Louw.  Johannesburg: SANLAM.

Bunn, D. N. 2006. “The Museum Outdoors: Heritage, Cattle, and Permeable Borders in the South Western Kruger National Park.” In Corrine Kratz and Ivan Karp, eds., Museum Frictions: Public Cultures/Global Transformations.” Duke University Press.

Bunn, D.N. 2005. Borderline Cases: Jeremy Wafer’s Radical Edge.” Art South Africa 3.3 (Autumn): 30-35.

Bunn, D. N. 2003. “An Unnatural State: Tourism, Water, and Wildlife Photography in the Early Kruger National Park.” In William Beinart and JoAnn McGregor, eds. Social History and African Environments. Oxford: James Currey.

Bunn, D. N. 2002. “Tumuli: Conversations With Jeremy Wafer.” Exhibition catalogue, SASOL Gallery, Stellenbosch, October.

Bunn, D. N. 2002. “The Sleep of the Brave: Graves As Sites and Signs in the Colonial Eastern Cape.” Paul Landau, ed., Images and Empires.  Los Angeles: University of California Press.

Bunn, D. N. 2002 “Dark Designs: Joni Brenner at the Posel Gallery.” Catalogue Essay 1-5. October.

Bunn, D. N. 2002. “Breath Alphabet: Karel Nel and the History of Division.”  Catalogue essay, Karel Nel. Artfirst Gallery, New York, November.

Bunn, D. N. 2002. “Antiphony: Two Gifts for Penny Siopis.” Catalogue introduction, Penny Siopis Exhibition Sympathetic Magic, Gertrude Posel Gallery October.

Bunn, D. N. 2001. “Comaroff Country.”Interventions 3.1: 5-23.

Bunn, D. N, Field, R., eds. 2000. Trauma and Topography. Johannesburg: Landscape and Memory Project.

Bunn, D. N. 1999. “Brittle Surfaces.” Sulfur 44 (Spring): 230-233.

Bunn, D. N. 1999. “Morbid Curiosities: Mutilation, Exhumation, and the Fate of Colonial Painting.” In Alan Feldman, ed. States of Violence (American Anthropological Association.

Bunn, D. N. 1999. “Owning the Kruger Park.”  Arts 1999 (Department of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology) 60-63.

Bunn, D. N. 1998. “Whited Sepulchres: On the Reluctance of Monuments.” In Hilton Judin, ed. BLANK: Architecture, Apartheid and After. Rotterdam: Netherlands Architecture Institute.

Bunn, D. N. 1996. “‘The Brown Serpent of the Rocks’: Bushman Arrow Toxins in the Dutch and British Imagination,1735-1850.” In Brenda Cooper and Andrew Steyn, eds., Transgressing Boundaries: New Directions in the Study of Culture in Africa. Cape Town and Dayton: University of Cape Town Press, and Ohio University Press.

Bunn, D. N. 1996. “Comparative Barbarism: Game Reserves, Sugar Plantations, and the Modernization of South African Landscape.”  In Kate Darian Smith, Liz Gunner, and Sarah Nuttall, eds. Text, Theory, Space: Land, Literature, and History in South Africa and Australia. London: Routledge.

Bunn, D. N. 1996. “‘Some Alien Native Land’: Arthur Nortje, Literary History, and the Body in Exile.” World Literature Today 70.1 (Winter): 33-44.

Bunn, D. N. 1994. “The Presence of Theory: Three Questions for Megan Vaughan.”  Social Dynamics 20.1 (Winter).

Bunn, D. N. 1993.  “Arthur Nortje.”  Encyclopaedia of Literary Biography.  Ed. Bernth Lindfors.  New York: Gale Publishing.

Bunn, D. N, Taylor, J. 1993.  “Clive van den Berg: Works”. In Clive van den Berg, Excavations.  Johannesburg: Waylite Press.

Bunn, D. N. 1993.  “‘Our Wattled Cot’: Mercantile and Domestic Space in Thomas Pringle’s African Landscapes”. In  W. J. T. Mitchell, ed. The Power of Landscape. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Bunn, D. N. 1992. “Relocations: Landscape Theory, South African Landscape Practice, and the Transmission of Political Value”. Pretexts 4.2: 44-67.

Berlant, L., Bunn, D. N., Dharwadker, V., Taylor, J., Warner, M.   “Critical Multiculturalism” Critical Inquiry 18.3  (Spring 1992).

Bunn, D. N. 1990.  “After the Emergency: the Political Contexts of South African Literature.”   Landfall 44.4 December: 434-460.

Bunn, D. N. 1990.  “Description in the Land of Ideology.”  Journal of Literary Studies 5.3 (April).

Bunn, D. N. 1988.  “Embodying Africa: Woman and Romance in Colonial Fiction.” English in Africa 15.1 (May):1-28.

Bunn, D. N., and Taylor, J eds. 1988.  From South Africa.  Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Bunn, D. N, and Taylor, J., eds. 1987.  From South Africa. TriQuarterly 69.

Bunn, D. N. 1981.  “Arthur Nortje: the Oxford Journals.”  Somehow We Survive. Ed. Sterling Plumpp.  New York: Thunder’s Mouth Press.

Published Research Briefs

Bunn, D. N. 2015.  “Incorporation of Communal Lands Into South African Savanna Conservation Areas.” Wits Knowledge Hub for Rural Development. University of the Witwatersrand.

Curated Exhibitions

“Displacements: South African Works on Paper.” Mary and Leigh Block Gallery, Northwestern University, September 1994.

Isilwane: Pets and Animal Presences.” Sub Station Gallery, University of the Witwatersrand, 13-16 September 2007.

Documentary Film

Nyempere: Charlie Nkuna and the making of the Kruger National Park. 2011. 60 minutes.


In South Africa: Syfret’s Award for Poetry; Human Sciences Research Council Bursary, 1820 Settler’s National Foundation Scholarship, Cape of Good Hope Foundation academic travel grant, Mellon Foundation research grant, University of the Western Cape research grants; University of the Western Cape Best Publication 1994 (Humanities); 1998 Council for Scientific Development team research director’s award (for my direction of the Landscape and Memory Project);

International: Fulbright Scholarship, Northwestern University Fellowships and Scholarships, School of Criticism and Theory scholarship. (In 1980, I became the first person in the history of the English Department at Northwestern to be awarded a distinction for the doctoral qualifying examinations). Visiting professorship, Franke Institute, University of Chicago, 2004, Visiting Professorship, Center for the Study of Public Scholarship, Emory University, 2007; Visiting Scholar, Australian National University, Canberra; Rockefeller Centre, Bellagio, team award; Donnelly Fellowship, National Humanities Center, 2011-2012.


Scholarly Organizations and Trade Unions

Association of University English Teachers of South Africa (AUETSA)

The Chicago Cultural Studies Group

Western Cape Teacher’s Union [WECTU]

Editorial Committees

Editorial Associate for Pretexts

Editorial Board of Journal of Literary Studies

Editorial Committee of Southern African Review of Books

Editor  (with Jane Taylor and Martin Hall) Social Dynamics

Reader for Ravan Press, David Philip Press, the Journal of Literary Studies, and American Anthropologist

Research Organizations

Member, National Research Foundation (NRF) Advisory Panel on Modern Languages, Art and Library and Information Sciences

Member, NRF Advisory Panels on Distinct South African Opportunities

Member, Social Sciences Research Advisory Board, South African National Parks


University of the Western Cape: co-ordinator of the English Department language program, Post-Graduate coordinator; Faculty Committee for Research and Study Leave and numerous ad hoc faculty committees on language, student representation, and research. Member of Senate, Senate Academic Planning Committee, Arts Faculty Executive Committee, the Arts Faculty Higher Degrees Committee, Senate Higher Degrees Committee, the ad hominem awards committee, and the Cultural Studies Working Group. Chairperson, Arts Faculty Academic Planning Committee and Languages Subject Group, and Chair of the English Department.

At the University of the Witwatersrand

Serving member: the University Research Committee, Faculty Graduate Committee, Research Screening Committee, University Galleries Committee, Senate, Faculty Executive, the Space Committee, the Faculty of the Built Environment, the Faculty Planning and Research Committee, search committees for the Chair of Accounting, the Postgraduate Studies Committee, the Research Committee, and the Heads of School committee. I have been Assistant Dean: Research, have chaired countless committees, and have written many major university policy documents. In 2007, I was invited to apply for the position of Deputy Vice Chancellor at Wits, an offer that I declined.

Study-Abroad Programs

In 1996, I was appointed academic director of the Northwestern University Summer Session programme in South Africa. In the first year of its operation, this new initiative won the award for the top study-abroad program in the United States. Since then, I have been asked to develop similar courses for the Journalism program at Emory University, the University of Illinois, Duke University, Northwestern University’s Global Public Health, Health Engineering, and Medill Schools, the University of Chicago, Harvard University, the University of Maryland, and Arizona State University. For more than a decade I was the Academic Director of the University of Chicago African Civilization program in South Africa, on the board of the Bard College Human Rights program, and I directed the History and Culture course in the Organization for Tropical Studies (Duke University) program in South Africa for 10 years.


I direct a large interdisciplinary research project called Under the Wire, in South Africa’s Kruger National Park. Until this year I was the inaugural director of the Knowledge Hub for Rural Development at Wits Rural Facility, and served on the board of the UNESCO Kruger to Canyons Biosphere Region, and the Lowveld Protected Areas Network. I am currently a senior research scientist at the Natural Resources Ecology Laboratory at Colorado State University.



STEC (Skills Training for Employment Centre), Tshulu Trust, Nsasani Trust, Board Member, Kruger to Canyons Biosphere Reserve [UNESCO].

Community work

I developed childcare facilities in the Karoo village of Barrydale, and a support programme for the Stormont Madubela primary school in Guguletu. Throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, I played an active role in several anti-apartheid political organizations. I founded the Dishume Women’s Craft Collective in Limpopo Province, and in 2004 I began a substantial new development initiative funded by a R900 000 grant from the National Lottery Foundation, in the rural village of HaMakuya. This project has attracted significant additional funding support and international recognition, with grant aid from the Department of Arts and Culture and the Flemish Government amounting to some R3 million.

Government and Parastatals: In 1998, I was appointed to serve on the Built Environment Committee of South Africa’s first post-apartheid National Monuments Council. As a consultant for South African National Parks I completed a major report on a new land claim against the southern Kruger National Park, and wrote the new plan for interpretive services in that same park. In 2006 I was also elected to the Social Sciences Research Committee of South African National Parks.

In 2006 my nomination as a council member of the National Arts Council of South Africa was confirmed by parliament. I was then also been elected to the Executive of that body, and I chaired its research committee for two years.


My activities in land claims work, research into communities and conservation, and political ecology, were coordinated through a special company that I ran: Public Nature Community and Environment Consultancy.

As head of Public Nature, I directed many major projects for a variety of local and international clients. These include, amongst others:

  • A major research report for the Gauteng government on the impact on local communities of the proposed Dinokeng Game Reserve;
  • A four-year long historical research consultancy for South African National Parks on land claims against the south western Kruger National Park;
  • A new strategic plan for Interpretive Services in the Kruger National Park, for South African National Parks
  • Nyempere, an award-winning documentary film on the lives of early black game rangers in the Kruger National Park.

As Director of the Knowledge Hub for Rural Development, University of the Witwatersrand, I coordinated major academic consultancy work for a variety of agencies, including the USAID funded Resilience in the Limpopo Basin [RESILIM] project and the Global Environmental Fund [GEF].

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