Nicky Falkof

Associate Professor and undergraduate student coordinator

In 2012 I returned to South Africa from the UK, where I completed my Masters and PhD, to take up an NRF-funded postdoctoral research fellowship at the University of Johannesburg. I joined Wits in April 2013 as a Senior Lecturer in Media Studies, and became HOD in September 2015. 


My research is primarily concerned with the way in which popular media and culture intersect with identity and ideology. I am interested in issues to do with race, particularly whiteness, and gender, particularly masculinity, as well as with fear, affect and cultural and urban mythologies. I take a multidisciplinary approach that draws on cultural studies, media studies, psychoanalysis, anthropology and sociology, among others. My interests manifest in a number of disparate but related areas.

Mass culture:
One stream that my research takes relates to popular mass cultural products, generally genre film and television, that travel globally. I have written and published on race and masculinity in 1980s Hollywood action cinema, including Conan the Barbarian, Rambo, Die Hard, Lethal Weapon and Predator; on risk and fear in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles; and on masculinity in Mad Men and the output of Die Antwoord.

Risk, anxiety and moral panic:
My doctoral and post-doctoral research was concerned with crises in white identity during the late apartheid period, read symptomatically through media reporting on the Satanism scare and so-called epidemic of Afrikaans family murder, published as a monograph in 2015. I am currently engaged in a project that considers risk, anxiety and moral panic in the global south. Drawing on Zygmunt Bauman's ideas about the 'culture of fear', it considers issues like contemporary Satanist murders and urban legends in Johannesburg townships. 

Spatial politics:
I have a concurrent interest in the intersections between space and identity in contemporary global south cities. I have published on the shift from maids’ rooms to garden cottages in Johannesburg and am working on a project that considers white expatriate anxieties in cities like Santiago de Chile. 



Nicky Falkof. The End of Whiteness. (Johannesburg: Jacana, 2016. Paperback new edition of monograph below.) 

Nicky Falkof. Satanism and Family Murder in Late Apartheid South Africa. (London: Palgrave, 2015). 

Oliver Cashman-Brown & Nicky Falkof (eds). On Whiteness. E-book. (Oxford: Inter-Disciplinary Press, 2012).

Nicky Falkof. Ball and Chain: The Trouble with Modern Marriage. London: Fusion Press, 2007.

Journal articles:

Nicky Falkof. 'The Devil Destroyed Us: Satanism and Gender Violence in South Africa'. Feminist Media Studies (2016). 

Nicky Falkof. ‘AFR/ENG: White Men in Two Contemporary South African Films’. Critical Arts 30.1 (2016).

Nicky Falkof. ‘Out the Back: Race and Reinvention in Johannesburg’s Garden Cottages‘. International Journal of Cultural Studies, 2015. 

Nicky Falkof. ‘A “Bloody Epidemic”: Whiteness and Family Murder in Late Apartheid South Africa‘. Safundi 14.3 (2013), pp. 307-325.

Nicky Falkof. ‘Heroes with a Half Life: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and America’s Repression of Radiophobia after Chernobyl‘. Journal of Popular Culture 46.5 (2013), pp931-946.

Nicky Falkof. ‘“Satan Has Come to Rietfontein”: Race in South Africa’s Satanic Panic‘. Journal of Southern African Studies 38.4 (2012), pp753–767.

Nicky Falkof. ‘The Father, the Failure and the Self-Made Man: Masculinity in Mad Men‘. Critical Quarterly 54.3 (2012), pp31–45.

Nicky Falkof. ‘Hard Bodies and Sidelong Looks: Spectacle and Fetish in 1980s Action Cinema‘. Excursions 1.1 (2010).

Book chapters:

Nicky Falkof. ‘Godard’s Women’ in Laura Mulvey & Colin MacCabe (eds), Godard’s Contempt: New Essays (London: Wiley, 2012), pp52–62.

Nicky Falkof. ‘Arnie at the Gates: Race, Barbarity and Star Persona in Conan’ in Jonas Prida (ed), Conan Meets the Academy: Multidisciplinary Essays on the Enduring Barbarian (Carolina: McFarland, 2012), pp123–143.

Nicky Falkof. ‘“I’ll Be Black”: Race and Technophobia in 1980s Action Cinema’ in Celestino Deleyto & María del Mar Azcona (eds), Generic Attractions: New Essays in Film Genre Criticism (Paris: Michel Houdiard Éditeur 2010), pp204–216.


Nicky Falkof. 'The Myth of White Purity and Narratives that Fed Racism in South Africa'. The Conversation, 15 May 2016.

Nicky Falkof. 'South Africa's Student Revolt'. New York Times, 25 October 2015.

Nicky Falkof. 'Extracts from an Abortive Travelogue'. The Johannesburg Workshop in Theory and Criticism Salon, 2014. 

Nicky Falkof. 'Red October'. Daily Maverick, 7 October 2013. 

Nicky Falkof. 'FHM and the Outrage Machine'. Daily Maverick, 18 July 2013.

Google Scholar
Twitter: @BarbraStrident

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