Jordache A. Ellapen (on leave until June 2025)

Assistant Professor

Cross Appointments: Department of Visual Studies, UTM


Areas of Interest

  • Gender and Sexuality Studies
  • Afro-diasporic Aesthetic Practices
  • Queer African Studies
  • Black Queer Studies
  • Afro-Asian Studies
  • Queer Diasporas
  • Race and Eroticism
  • Queer of Color Critique
  • Race and Racial Formations
  • American Studies
  • Postcolonial Studies
  • Critical Theory, Visual Culture

My research interests focus primarily on the intersections between aesthetic practices, race and racial formations, and transgressive sexuality and erotics in the African and Indian diasporic contexts. My current research and publications theorize the relationships between cultural politics and political culture in South Africa and the diaspora. My research and teaching focus on black and African feminist and queer studies, transnational sexuality studies, queer diaspora studies, and race and racial formations, with a particular interest in the global South and diasporic communities in North America and Europe.  

I am happy to receive inquiries form students interested in any of these research areas. 


Undergraduate Appointment: Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Department of Historical Studies, UTM

Graduate Appointment: Women and Gender Studies Institute (St. George)

Affiliations: Bonham Center for Sexual Diversity Studies (St. George)

I am an assistant professor of Feminist Studies in Culture and Media. A native from South Africa, living and working in Toronto, I am interested in the relationship between aesthetics, race, and politics in South Africa and the African Diaspora. As an interdisciplinary scholar, I am interested in transnational theories and methods informed by Black studies, African studies, Diaspora Studies, Gender Studies, and Sexuality/Queer Studies. My research and teaching interests include Black queer performance and aesthetic practices; Afro-Indian cultural production; Afro-queer-diasporic film and photography; aesthetics, archives, and affect; Black Sexual Cultures, and race, pleasure, and pornography. I have also published on South African cinema and Nigerian video-films. My research and teaching are invested in examining the relationship between aesthetics, visuality, and decolonization.

I am currently writing a book tentatively titled Against Afronormativity: Afro-Indian Intimacies and the Queer Aesthetics of Race in South Africa, which examines Afro-Indian intimacies and the shifting nature of South African Blackness through a queer studies lens. This book curates an archive of aesthetic practices by feminist, queer, femme and gender non-conforming Afro-Indian and Black South African artists in order to confound how we understand the categories Indian, African, and Black in South Africa. This book seeks to understand how marginalized artist-activists are taking up the incomplete project of freedom in South Africa and reframing what constitutes the political through a radical African queer imaginary. As a curatorial project, this Afro-Indian archive unhinges South African Indianness and Blackness from the normative, directing us to practices of freedom through which we can radically imagine South African society otherwise.

My research eschews disciplinary boundaries in a quest to produce new frameworks and methods to understand culture and society from the perspectives of those most marginalized and vulnerable.

I am currently a Martha LA McCain Faculty Research Fellow in the Bonham Center for Sexual Diversity Studies, which is part of the Queer and Trans Research Lab.


PhD. American Studies, Indiana University, Bloomington

Cinema Studies, New York University, Tisch School of the Arts

Film Studies, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg

Dramatic Art, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg

Selected Works

Edited Collections: 

  • we remember differently: Race, Memory, Imagination (UNISA Press, 2012) 
  • “Cinema in Post-apartheid South Africa: New Perspectives,” edited by Jordache A. Ellapen and Haseenah Ebrahim. Black Camera: An International Film Journal (Spring 2018) 

Recent publications include: 

Honours and Awards


JHI-Mellon Early Career Faculty Fellow at the University of Toronto. 


Undergraduate Courses:

Theories in Women and Gender Studies

Political Aesthetics and Feminist Representation

Diasporic Sexualities

Queer African Studies 

Graduate Courses:

WGS1010: Race, Sex, Pleasure