Denise Lim

Postdoctoral Scholar
Building 460, Room 020

Dr. Denise Lim is a postdoctoral scholar for the African Collections project at the Stanford University Archaeology Collections (SUAC). Denise has a BA in English and Sociology from Bryn Mawr College, an MA in African Studies, and a PhD in Sociology from Yale University, where she was both a lecturer and a research fellow at the Yale Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage (IPCH). Denise has worked for over 15 years in the transdisciplinary sociology of diverse African communities, concentrating on southern Africa and the region’s diverse cultural practices. She co-curated the Contemporary Art/South Africa exhibition at the Yale University Art Gallery in 2014 and has undertaken curation, research, and teaching within Yale’s notable African art collection. As part of her dissertation fieldwork, Denise collaborated with South African artist Mikhael Subotzky to access and research his and Patrick Waterhouse’s Ponte City (2014) art archive.

As part of her dissertation fieldwork, Denise photographed and catalogued thousands of artifacts that the two artists collected from an infamous residential tower named Ponte, a Brutalist building in the heart of Johannesburg that was constructed during apartheid in 1975. Changing owners had attempted to renovate and gentrify the residence, forcibly evicting tenants from their homes in 2008 to make way for wealthier clients. Denise recontextualized these artifacts with multimedia forms of data including Ponte’s photographic archive, architectural blueprints, city planning documents, tenant applications from the National Archives, documentary films, and newspaper articles. She is now completing her most recent project, a survey on behalf of the Yale IPCH and the Global Consortium for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage to evaluate the impact that COVID-19 has had on cultural heritage and preservation training programs throughout the African continent.

While at Stanford, Denise will develop new collaborative partnerships with various cultural heritage institutions, universities, and community organizations throughout the African continent. She will also co-teach a course entitled, The African Archive Beyond Colonization with Dr. Sarah Derbew in the Autumn 2021 quarter at Stanford University, and plans to work with students to launch both an on-site and virtual exhibition of the African Collections held at the SUAC by March 2022. Denise is currently a member of the Stanford Humanities Center Workshop on Postcolonial Spatialities headed by Dr. Ato Quayson.


Lim, Denise and Sumayya Vally. 2021. “Diasporic Entanglements” in Conversations Across Place: Reckoning with an Entangled World, edited by Nicola Brandt and Frances Whorrall-Campbell. Berlin, Germany: The Green Box.

Lim, Denise L. (Forthcoming). “Prototyping New Possibilities: Digital Architectures for the Preservation of African Cultural Heritage” in Dusty Discontinuities: Spaces of the Hyperreal in Post-Colonial Egypt. Ghost Publication Series, Johannesburg, South Africa.

Lim, Denise L. (Forthcoming). “Remnants of Apartheid in Ponte City, Johannesburg” in The Politics of Design: Privilege and Prejudice in Aotearoa New Zealand, Australia & South Africa edited by Federico Freschi, Farieda Nazier, and Jane Venis, Otago Press, Dunedin, New Zealand.

—2020. Excavating Palimpsests in Ponte City. Ph.D diss., Yale University, New Haven.

—2018. “What the Landscape Recalls: Articulating Scales of Violence in Landscape Trauma in Namibia.” ART AFRICA, February 8. Retrieved (

—2018. “Quiet Images of the Zionist Christian Church.” City Press, July 8, 12–12. Retrieved (