Michelle Pressend

Senior Lecturer

Michelle Pressend is currently the TRAJECTS - Transnational Centre for Just Transitions in Energy, Climate and Sustainability Academic Coordinator of the African Regional Hub based in the Energy Research Systems Group at the University of Cape Town (UCT). She lectured Environmental Sociology at UCT in the past five year. She is also lecturing a Gender and the Politics of Development second year undergraduate course in African Feminist studies. She has worked as a researcher, policy analyst, and activist on environmental and socio-economic justice primarily within the non-governmental sector for over twenty years. She also served in national government during the World Summit on Sustainable Development. She recently submitted her PhD thesis in Anthropology in association Environmental Humanities South at UCT. Her PhD research focuses on material nature renewable energy transitions in South Africa. It engages in ontological and epistemological questions to cultivate thinking and ways of being beyond ‘human’ mastery over nature, and extractive logics and capital accumulation.

Research Interests

Her research interest is in ways to create, re-member, reclaim and defend energy transitions from decolonial and relational perspectives. Relational perspectives pay close attention to power relations, politics, materiality, and exclusions. Values that are respectful, regenerative, and reciprocal to nature and each other constitute the concept of relationality. Relational relational energy transitions consider pluriversality and life-affirming ways to address the climate crisis.



BSc - Majors Botany and Biochemistry, University of Western Cape

BSc (Honours) - Botany, University of Western Cape

MSc (Conservation Biology), University of Cape Town

Graduate Certificate in Economics, University of Witwatersrand

PhD Candidate (Thesis under examination) - Anthropology in association with Environmental Humanities South, University of Cape Town.

Thesis title: ‘Alternatives to the economic rationalisation of renewable energy transition: The Tsitsikamma Community Renewable Wind Farm Story’



Edited Books Published

Rethinking Natural Resources in South Africa, edited by Michelle Pressend and Timothy Othieno, published by the Institute for Global Dialogue, January 2009

Dilemmas of Poverty and Development: A proposed policy framework for the Southern Africa Development, edited by Michelle Pressend and Michele Ruiters, published by Institute for Global Dialogue, July 2008

Poverty and Development: A proposed policy framework for the Southern Africa Development Community developed as part of the Helsinki Process on Globalisation and Democracy, edited by Michelle Pressend, published by Institute for Global Dialogue, November 2007.

Trade liberalisation and Environmental Linkages: Implications for Sustainable Development, edited by Michelle Pressend, Published by the Institute of Global Dialogue, September 2006.

Selected Articles

Pressend, M. 2023. “Green Masquerade: Neo-liberalism, Extractive Renewable Energy Transitions, and the ‘Good’ Anthropocene in South Africa” in International Development Policy | Revue internationale de politique de développement [Online], 16 | 2023,.URL: http://journals.openedition.org/poldev/5695. DOI: https://doi.org/10.4000/poldev.5695

Pressend, M. Windscapes: Frontiers of Green Energy Capital Accumulation in Book Contested Ecology II (Upcoming publication)

Pressend, M. 2018. Silenced: The need to amplify rural women’s ‘voices’ in South Africa’ renewable energy pathway, South Africa Labour Bulletin, Umaynano Publications

Pressend M. 2014. Corporate Capture in Southern African Infrastructure Development, Amandla, Issue No.35 August/September 2014

Pressend, M. 2014. Transforming Global Governance Institutions: Toward Public Interest?

Theme: Reforming Global Governance Institutions, Papers of the Fifth BRICS Academic Forum, BRICS and Africa: Partnership for Development, Integration and Industrialisation, Published by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, South Africa

Institute for Global Dialogue, 2011, Overcoming Barriers to Climate Change Adaptation Implementation in Southern Africa, Chapter 8 Financial Barriers to Adaptation Implementation: A South African Case Study on Financing Water Adaptation written by Michelle Pressend. www.igd.org.za

Christian Aid and the Economic Justice Network, 2011. Report on Low Africa: South Africa case study written by Michelle Pressend and Muna Lakhani. www.christianaid.org.uk/low-carbon- africa

Economic Justice Network Policy Brief, 2010, Climate Change, Water and Food Security in Southern Africa, November 2010

Trade Winds, Volume 2. No.1. 2008, Trade and Environment: Carbon trading: Getting the price right? By Lesley Masters and Michelle Pressend

Competing Visions and Conflicting Priorities: A Southern African Perspective on the World Summit, published in Environment, July/August 2002. Co-authored with Ralph Hamann & Zarina Patel.

Fires and Floods: Dealing with Natural Disasters, in The Networker, ed. 32, May 2000.A practical approach:

Addressing Solid Waste Management in Townships, Conference paper, Waste Con 1996 (October)

Popular Articles

Wrote a number of articles for the South Africa’s Civil Society Information Service (SACSIS), www.sacsis.org.za