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 Research Projects


Community based projects

Prof Olajide Oloyede and Prof Diana Gibson are also involved in a project: Training health care providers and traditional health care practitioners on collaboration and training related to HIV/AIDS prevention and care. This project organises workshops and developed training combines understandings of traditional health practitioners and health care workers concerning HIV/AIDS prevention and care highlighting the sometimes oppositional cultural perspectives of biomedicine and indigenous healing. The workshop and training focuses on enhancing closer collaboration, improving mutual understanding and combining biomedical and ‘traditional’ knowledge to improve health education, counselling and care. The project is funded by CDC PEPFAR under the umbrella of School of Public Health and the HIV/AIDS Research Centre at UWC.

Registered PhD projects

Paschaline Stevens’ doctoral research focuses on male sexual desire and pleasure as constructed and performed in relations between men who have sex with men. The study is located in Atlantis and Cape Town.

Phillip Kapulula is doing a study on the perceptions of married men of their role in managing pregnancy. His research focuses on men in Chilooko Village in Ntchisi Malawi. The research is conducted against the background of public health calls on men to be more involved with their spouses’ pregnancy as well as efforts to reduce maternal deaths in Malawi.

Godfrey Maringira is doing his doctoral research on the lived experiences of Zimbabwean soldiers who deserted or resigned, went into exile and now live in South Africa. The study focuses on the ways in which these soldiers cope with the loss of status, authority, memories of being a soldier and the meanings they attach to their past and exile experiences in South Africa.

Recently completed PhD projects

Registered Masters Projects

Magdalena Nepaya is a nurse-anthropologist exploring the acceptability of medical male circumcision (MMC) in Ohangwena region, Namibia.

Denver Davids is investigating the use of traditional medicinal plants as material objects which acquires meaning and value as it is ‘produced’, harvested and exchanged between human actors

Julia Kali’s research project focuses on women’s understandings of and experiences in primary health care in Khayelitsha.



r Projects:

a) Performing the ‘Rainbow Nation’: Cultural performance, belonging, and citizenship in contemporary South Africa

This interdisciplinary project investigates the significance of cultural performance in the processes of reconfiguring citizenship in contemporary South Africa. As the resurgent xenophobic violence in the context of service delivery protests demonstrates, such issues of belonging have become quite explosive, particularly among populations who live on the social margins of South African cities. The project will reveal how notions of inclusion and exclusion are mediated through cultural forms and the politics of authentication through which mediated cultural forms come to be framed as authentic and “true”. It focuses particularly, but not exclusively, on performers and their audiences in socially marginal urban settings. Amongst the fields that this interdisciplinary project studies are performative cultural forms, including festivals, masquerades, rituals, public spectacle, drama productions, music, dance, sports, fashion, and other forms of contemporary popular culture. Funded by the South Africa-Netherlands Programme for Alternatives in Development (SANPAD)

b)    Performance and the Politics of Difference in Africa

This project investigates how categories of social difference and belonging in contemporary African societies are created, reproduced, contested, and reconfigured through performance. The research starts from the assumption that in order to develop new directions in the study of belonging and the politics of difference, we need to take the connections of aesthetics and politics as a starting point, focusing on performance, style, spectacle, and the materiality of cultural forms. The project builds on and relates to the research done on performance, belonging and citizenship in contemporary South Africa. With the new project (funded by the National Research Foundation, 2012-2014), the established South African-focused work is being expanded to West and East Africa in order to gain comparative insights into African societies, and overcome the analytical problems associated with the assumption that South Africa is a special case and completely different from the rest of the continent (‘South African exceptionalism’).

Participation in collaborative research project:

Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), mobility and the reconfiguration of marginality in South(ern) Africa (2011-2013)

Project leader: Francis Nyamnjoh (UCT)

This project investigates the diverse transformations wrought by new Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), in particular mobile phones, in socially marginal populations within Southern Africa, including migrants from Africa north of the Limpopo. The project aims to reveal how, when and why ICTs generate new configurations of marginality. Funding: SANPAD

UWC postgraduate research fellow: Disebo Marjorie Motau (MA Anthropology); Love relationships, texting and mobility: An ethnography of cell phone use in intimate relationships among labour migrants in Cape


Individual research project (funded by UWC Senate Research 2011-2012)

Heike Becker, with research assistants Chanell Oliphant and Disebo Motau (MA students in Anthropology) This project critically investigates the past and present trajectories of South(ern) African Anthropology’s relationship with popular culture studies, with the aim of developing both an academic analysis  and suggestions for the future development of ethnographic studies of popular culture and performance in South African anthropology departments in general, and at UWC in particular. 

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