Anthropology Research Focus Areas (2023)

Head of Department:

  • Prof Joy Owen 

    Working with transnational migration, fieldwork, racialised identities, decolonisation, intimate ethnography, and ethnographic writing.

Associate Professor: 

  • Prof Theodore Petrus 

    Specialisation in Anthropology of Crime, and extensive research expertise in the areas of witchcraft-related crime, as well as gang subcultures.
    Specialisation is the anthropology of coaching/mentoring. My research specialisations, approach, and publications are based on Applied Anthropology, i.e., using anthropological perspectives, methods, and techniques to address contemporary social and cultural challenges affecting communities. Currently working on gang subcultures in the Northern Areas of Gqeberha (Eastern Cape) since 2013.

Senior Lecturers:  

  • Dr Christian Williams

    Southern Africa’s anti-colonial struggles and their aftermath, primarily through the case of Namibia. I work with ethnographic methods to engage critically with historiography and to create space for public dialogue and recognition. Central themes of my publications include nationalism, history, exile, refugees, camps, solidarity, and faith. I am now completing a monograph that explores the interplay between anti-colonial nationalism and Christian faith through the life of a Namibian former exile and pastor,
  • Dr Shirley Du Plooy

    Working primarily with Sesotho-speaking communities in the Eastern Free State and Lesotho, my anthropological fieldwork falls within the intersecting ambits of pilgrimaging, health and traditional health, rites of passage and emerging adulthood. My theoretical contributions emphasise the entangled and enmeshed ways of knowing and being in more than human worlds. 


  • Motsaathebe Serekoane

    Issues about the scholarship that informs transformative education, community engagement, culture, heritage, and health. I see my work as interdisciplinary as the movement of my thought cut across various disciplinary boundaries such as social work, psychology, sociology, and developmental studies. I am currently writing a PhD. thesis on the reconfiguration of the UFS “Red Square” for epistemic inclusion. 
  • Dimakatso Masenya

    My research interest is in thanatology, a discipline that studies death and its related topics. My research looks at how different communities in Bloemfontein define, embody, and experience death and further examines the ethnographic accounts of all those involved in a bereavement process such as municipal officials, grave diggers, morticians, cremators, religious and spiritual leaders, and community elders. 
    My interests expand to the exploration of different sets of beliefs, that shape how human beings experience their worlds; family structures, kinship, and how we relate with people, rules, and protocols. Furthermore, the metaphoric and symbolic meaning around the term death and its various interpretations and application thereof are also of particular interest. 

Academic Facilitators:

  • Liezel Blomerus

    Liezel Blomerus is a PhD candidate in the Department of Anthropology at the University of the Free State (UFS). With a Master's in Anthropology, Liezel’s current PhD research focuses on the Anthropology of Higher Education, with specific attention to the topic of access to tertiary education as it pertains to the University Access Programme presented at the South Campus. Liezel has over eighteen years of teaching experience in Anthropology, having taught courses at introductory and senior levels.
  • Ingrid Juries

    A PhD candidate in the Anthropology department at the University of the Free State. With a Master’s in Geography, Ingrid’s current PhD research on African educational migrants considers the often-ignored transnational movement of African students. Her work details the complex ways in which educational migrants negotiate belonging in Higher Education, and other social spaces in Bloemfontein, South Africa. Ingrid has over ten years of teaching experience in Anthropology, having taught courses at introductory and senior levels.
  • Mamokoena Mokoena

    Master’s research considers the experiences of Zimbabwean transnational migrants in healthcare facilities in Bloemfontein, South Africa. I apply ethnographic methods of research to examine both positive and negative experiences of the global south migration. My research interests also include examining the broader sociality that spans local South African networks and Zimbabwean transnational networks.


T: +27 51 401 2240 or

Marizanne Cloete: +27 51 401 2592

Neliswa Emeni-Tientcheu: +27 51 401 2536
Juanita Hlongwane: +27 51 401 3269

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