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 PhD Profiles

Godfrey Maringira

Title: Soldiering in exile: Continuities of military being among Zimbabwe army deserters and resignators in South Africa.

Godfrey Maringira started his PhD in 2011 in the Department of Anthropology and Sociology. His research is titled: Soldiering in exile: Continuities of military being among Zimbabwe army deserters and resignators in South Africa. Godfrey focuses on a category of soldiers who joined the Zimbabwe National army in post-independence Zimbabwe. Godfrey is interested in military sociological research: understanding soldiers in and in the aftermath of active combat service.


Phillip Klemens Kapulula

Title: The role of men in promoting women’s reproductive and maternal health in a matrilineal marriage system in Malawi: The case of Ntchisi District.

This study aims to investigate men’s perception of their role in the reproductive health of women, especially their pregnant wives. It seeks to bring to light how perceptions and practices of fatherhood in a matrilineal marriage system in Malawi contribute to women’s reproductive and maternal health. The study departs from the discourses on maternal and child health in Malawi that have exclusively focused on women. The proposal contends that there is lack of emphasis on the role of men in reproductive health in general but more specifically in women’s maternal wellbeing. 



Ala Hourani

Title: Performances of Muslim-ness in post-apartheid Cape Town: Authenticating Cult-ural Difference, Belonging and Citizenship

My PhD research explores aesthetic and sensual performances of the making and re-making of a community of Muslims in Cape Town. It explores the related process and politic of authenticity and materialization of Muslims’ cultural styles in Cape Town; the way in which Muslims make their cultural style appear authentic through aesthetic and sensual performances. This ethnography traces aesthetic formation of Muslim-ness across and within multiple sites of South African Muslims and Somali immigrants in Cape Town. The ethnography focuses on the sensory performances of sound, food, images, and body formations of both Cape Muslims and Somali immigrants, and the ways in which the cultural localities of these Muslim groups intersect and influence the aesthetic/sensory performances of each other. The ethnography rests on theorizations of cultural performance as a powerful means of authentication and enactment, on the postulate of cultural hybridization and on the ongoing debate of multiculturalism and politics of cultural difference and belonging.  The research points out that Muslim imagined community and their sense of multiple belonging are contextual, temporal, and performative in a Bulter’s sense that it is it is “real only to the extent that it is performed”.  The ethnography addresses the cultural performances of three overlapping analytical categories; first, is the performative act of Muslims’ self-presentation of Muslim-ness in their everyday living in Cape Town; second, Muslim-ness as a staged performance in formal, marked events set aside from everyday life (rituals, theatrical, carnivals, festivals, etc.); third, the research is concerned with cultural performance as a performed discourse, particularly in the media.



Odette Murara

Title: ‘Performing diversity’: Everyday social interaction among migrants from the Great Lakes region and South Africans in Cape Town


While the dominant discourse is on the persistence of xenophobia in South Africa, this proposed study focuses on the ways in which Great Lakes region migrants forge socialities with the locals and among themselves in Phoenix informal settlement in Cape Town. The question that guides this research is, how do migrants deal with the everyday experiences of living together with differences amongst themselves and with South Africans in a fragmented migrant community? This raises questions evaded by earlier studies about the migrants from a region which has been ravaged by wars, with and their lives torn and shattered by their past. How do they attach particular meanings to the differences that exist among them and locals? How do they understand belonging to particular social and emotional spaces? Theoretically, this ethnographic study is informed by the notion of ‘embodied performance’ as an anthropological approach to make sense of the everyday interactions, in this case, how migrants mediate the encounters of the everyday in their neighbourhood in Cape Town. Drawing from this theoretical approach, differences and the way they are mediated among migrants and locals can be understood as drawn from particular histories of ethnicity and nationality and as re-enacted and re-created in the everyday. Conceptually, cosmopolitanism and conviviality will be employed to understand the local practices and social, historical and economic resources which migrants use in living together. The proposed study is of an ethnographic nature, which employs life histories, interviews and participant observation through ‘deep-hanging out' in migrants’ social spaces.



Allanise Cloete

Title: The invention of “moffie” life in Cape Town, South Africa

By loving other men, men with same sex desires are vulnerable to being labelled as different and are stigmatised for this transgression. In this thesis I demonstrate how specific forms of popular cultural and everyday performativity can become useful in contesting such stigmatisation. Central to the lives of men with same sex desires living in the ‘coloured’ townships of Cape Town, is the cultural figure of the “moffie”. Although the figure of the “moffie” is a highly visible and marginally accepted one, the masculine performing men they love remain elusive. Taking part in popular cultural events, such as Miss Gay beauty pageants serve as affirmation of their femininity and at the same time also interest (and attract) masculine performing men.

My aim is not to merely exhibit the popular cultural and everyday performances of men with same sex desires in order to show how certain cultural processes are unique or specific to ‘colouredness’. This would be contradictory to the hybridity that informs processes of creolization. Instead I focus on how men with same sex desires living in the ‘coloured’ townships of Cape Town create and invent themselves through modes of self-styling to stage a personal and a public performance that appears to be socially acceptable.



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