Current Director
Dr S Cawood
Dr Stephanie Cawood

Dr Stephanie Cawood (PhD) is the current Director of the Centre for Gender and Africa Studies at the University of the Free State, a position she has held since July 2019. Prior to that, she was Acting Director of the Centre from October 2017. From 2012-July 2019, she also served as Programme Director of the Programme for Africa Studies. She obtained her PhD in 2011 with her thesis titled, The Rhetorical Imprint of Nelson Mandela as Reflected in Public Speeches, 1950-2004. In her work, she argued that the structure of human thought and consciousness is derived from the nature of embodied experience and that all forms of expression are the products of this dynamic interaction. Dr Cawood is experienced in interdisciplinary scholarship and from 2008 to 2010 successfully led a National Heritage Council-funded project on the oral histories and the cultural uses of clay at sacred sites in the eastern Free State. As scholar, she is interested in the interdisciplinary spaces between Africa and Gender Studies from a postcolonial/decolonial perspective with particular interest in matters of culture and heritage, rhetoric, the oral tradition (indigenous knowledge systems) and memory. She has taught in the Africa and Gender Studies programmes where she is involved in the supervision of postgraduate students and has successfully graduated 28 postgraduate students from Honours (10) through to Master’s (10) and PhD level (8). In 2013, she went to the University of Bologna on a staff exchange (EUROSA) and, in 2016, took up a visiting research fellowship at the African Studies Centre Leiden. From 2016-2019, she was awarded a Newton Advanced Fellowship from the British Academy and Newton Fund in collaboration with Prof Jonathan Fisher from the University of Birmingham to pursue research titled, The memorialising of struggle and the dynamics of memory, space, and power in post-liberation Africa. From 2008-2010 and again from 2018-2019, Dr Cawood collaborated with Dr Tascha Vos (Centre for Environment Management at UFS) on an interdisciplinary project called, ‘Testing the Waters’: The application of the Rapid Integrity Appraisal (RIA) model to Mohokare informal heritage sites. From 2021-2022, she also guest edited a special edition in the journal, Acta Academica, titled, Xenophobia in Africa, in collaboration with Prof Peter Olapegba from the University of Ibadan (Published Nov 2022).

Previous Directors
3.4 Prof Hudson
Prof Heidi Hudson

Prof Heidi Hudson (2012-2017) is Professor of International Relations and former Director of the Centre for Africa Studies at the University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa. In October 2017, she became Acting Dean of the Faculty of the Humanities and assumed the position fulltime as of 1 March 2018. She is a member of the Committee on the Status of Women of the International Studies Association (ISA) and was a Global Fellow of the Oslo Peace Research Institute (PRIO), in Norway from 2014 to 2016. She was co-editor of International Feminist Journal of Politics and serves on several editorial boards, such as International Peacekeeping, Stichproben. Vienna Journal of African Studies, The Australasian Review of African Studies, and Politikon. Heidi co-edited Post-conflict Reconstruction and Development in Africa: Concepts, role-players, policy and practice (UCT/UNU Press, 2013), with Theo Neethling. She has published articles in, among others, Peacebuilding, Security Dialogue, Security Studies, Politics & Gender, International Peacekeeping, and African Security Review. Her current research interests concentrate on discursive and material gender deficits of liberal peacebuilding in the postcolony and related to posthuman feminism. Some of her research also focuses on the gendering of Africa’s International Relations and postcolonial/decolonial epistemic resistance. She has held several fellowships, such as Fulbright, as well as at the Nordic Africa Institute and the University of Calgary, Canada. During her tenure as director, the Centre significantly increased its international footprint, research output as well as PhD enrolments and throughput.

3.3 Prof K Kondlo
Prof Kwandiwe Kondlo

Prof Kwandiwe Kondlo (2010-2012) holds an MA from the University of Cape Town and a DLitt et Phil from RAU (currently the university of Johannesburg). He joined the Centre for Africa Studies at the University of the Free State in May 2010 as one of the new guard of Senior Professors appointed during the tenure of the UFS Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Jonathan Jansen, and became the Director of the CAS from 1 August 2010. His specialisation field includes political parties and democratisation, rural development and land issues, as well as social cohesion. During his term as director, he spearheaded the African National Congress Centenary Dialogue Series which was launched on 30 November 2010 and concluded in February 2013. The dialogue series became regular events on the university calendar and included at least 15 public lectures from scholars and luminaries such as Stephen Ellis, Colin Bundy, Chris Saunders, Ben Turok, Shireen Hassim, Kwezi Prah, Dennis Goldberg, William Gumede and Chris Landsberg to name a few. The dialogue series resulted in the publication of a book he co-edited with Chris Saunders and Siphamandla Zondi titled, “Treading the Waters of History – Perspectives on the ANC” (2014, Africa Institute). On 24 August 2011, he delivered his inaugural lecture entitled, “At the Point of a Needle”, and explored the question of the South African Communist Party (SACP) and the dilemma of the National Democratic Revolution in South Africa from 1994 to date.

3.2 Prof Osman
Prof Anwar Osman

Prof Anwar Osman (2008-2010) holds a PhD from the Institute of Archaeology and Botanical Institute at the University of Bergen, Norway. His fields of expertise include cultural heritage, indigenous knowledge, ethnography, ethnoarchaeology and ethno archaeobotany. He was the founding Dean and Associate Professor of the Faculty of Archaeology and Heritage at the University of Wadi Al-Neel in Sudan from 1992-1993. Prior to that, he was lecturer (1983-1987) and assistant professor (1988-1993) at the University of Khartoum, Sudan. He was Associate Professor and Senior Research at UniFob Global (former Centre for Development Studies) at the University of Bergen in Norway. He was also affiliated with the following departments at the University of Bergen after 1992: Centre for Development Studies; Centre for Environment and Resource Studies; Department of Palynology; Botanical Institute; and the Department of Archaeology. He was also researcher and Associate Professor at the University of Compultense Madrid and the Spanish Higher Research Council in Madrid, Spain (2002-2004). Prof. Osman joined the UFS in 2007 and became director of the Centre for Africa Studies from September 2008 until June 2010. On 4 November 2010, he delivered his inaugural lecture titled, “Indigenous Knowledge in Africa: Challenges and Opportunities”.

3.1 Prof Nel
Prof Philip Nel

Prof Philip Nel (2007-2008) holds a DLitt from the University of Stellenbosch. Since 1975, he was a permanent academic staff member of the University of the Free State, initially as Senior Lecture in the then Department of Semitic Language. He became head of the Department of Near Eastern Studies in 1995, which later became the Department of Afroasiatic Studies, Sign Language and Language Practice. He introduced the Programme for Africa Studies in 2003, and was instrumental in the establishment of the Centre for Africa Studies in 2007, of which he was the first director. He was also instrumental in establishing the Programme for Gender Studies at the UFS in 2001 with Prof. Engela Pretorius. He developed a major interest in indigenous knowledge systems as well as indigenous African culture and religion. He successfully led a comprehensive research project on sacred sites from 2008-2014 which was funded by the South African Netherlands Programme for Alternative Development (SANPAD). This project result in the publication of the book, “Sacred Spaces and Contested Identities: Space and Ritual Dynamics in Europe and Africa” co-edited by himself, Paul Post and Walter van Beek (2014, African World Press).


T: +27 51 401 2240 or

Marizanne Cloete: +27 51 401 2592

Neliswa Emeni-Tientcheu: +27 51 401 2536
Phyllis Masilo: +27 51 401 9683

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