William Beinart has been Rhodes Professor of Race Relations since 1997. The position was established in 1953 to research and teach on ‘race relations’ with special reference to southern Africa. It has become an African Studies post. He was chair of the Board of the Journal of Southern African Studies (1992-8), founding Director of the African Studies Centre at Oxford (2002-6), co-chair of the School of Interdisciplinary Area Studies (SIAS, 2006-8), President of the African Studies Association of the UK (2008-10) and Director of Graduate Studies at the African Studies Centre (2009-13). In 2009 he was elected to the British Academy.
His major research and teaching interests are in southern African history and politics and in environmental history. He has focussed especially on rural society in the Eastern Cape. His research and teaching explores the intersection between social, political and environmental issues at a local, national and global scale.
Publications include Twentieth-Century South Africa (2001), The Rise of Conservation in South Africa (2003), Social History and African Environments (edited with Joann McGregor, 2003) and with Lotte Hughes, Environment and Empire (2007).