Current projects

Newton Advanced Fellowship: Memorialising struggle-Dynamics of Memory, Space and Power in Post-Liberation Africa

This project is part of the Newton Advanced Fellowship (Newton Fund and British Academy) awarded to Dr Stephanie Cawood from 2016 to 2019. The award is based on an international partnership between Dr Stephanie Cawood and Dr Jonathan Fisher from the International Development Department at the University of Birmingham in the UK. The British Academy is the United Kingdom’s national body for championing the humanities and social sciences and counts many world-leading scholars and researchers amongst its ranks. The proposed research compares how liberation struggles have been memorialised in South Africa and Uganda by focusing on museums, monuments, spaces, discourses and ceremonies as sites of engagement and contestation among different memorial cultures. The idea is to analyse the relationship between memory, space and power. South Africa and Uganda both have difficult histories and the way in which people remember and commemorate these histories differs making memory a site of political contestation. The topic was chosen as it is a broad extension of Dr Cawood’s work on Nelson Mandela’s rhetoric as well as the work of Dr Fisher on the National Resistance Movement in Uganda. The research will entail comparative fieldwork between the memorial cultures related to liberation movements in South Africa and Uganda, as well as research visits to the UK and Kenya. An important aspect of the project is to build a strong research network between the institutions involved and to foster new institutional partnerships in East Africa.

SIDA Project: Gender Mainstreaming-Developing Competencies in Higher Education for Gender Equality, Peacebuilding and Gender-Sensitive Research Co-ordinators

This is a five-year project between Dr Nadine Lake (Programme Director of the Gender Studies Programme in the CGAS) and her research partners at the University of Eduardo Mondlane (UEM), Mozambique and Uppsala University (UU), funded by the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA). The Gender Studies programme will be actively involved in the roll-out of a Master’s programme in Gender Studies at UEM in Mozambique and will be part of the supervision of Master’s and PhD students. Gender Studies will also be collaborating with the UFS Postgraduate School to enhance postgraduate academic writing and research skills of students at UEM and considers this collaboration an important step for the future development of Gender Studies at the UFS, and ultimately for the CAS.

Discourses of Predator Persecution under Livestock and Game Farming in the Southern Free State, South Africa

The project leader is Dr Tariro Kamuti, postdoctoral fellow of the Centre for Gender and Africa Studies. Dr Andrew Mutsiwa from the Department of Criminology is also a participant in this project. Persecution of predators is rampant in areas surrounding livestock and game farms. This has become a topical issue in contemporary biodiversity conservation narratives around South Africa pitting various stakeholders against one another. This persecution of predators has also been attributed to the decrease of their numbers on the continent. This study aims to identify and explain the prevailing contingent circumstances and strategies surrounding predator management in selected cases in the Free State and the Northern Cape, South Africa.

A Social History of Zimbabwean Illegal Gold Miners (zama zamas) in Post-apartheid South Africa

This project conducts new research on illegal African miners, particularly of Zimbabwean origin, in the Welkom area of South Africa. The research will be undertaken by Dr Tapiwa Madimu, postdoctoral fellow of the Centre for Gender and Africa Studies. The study seeks to explore the social history of the zama zamas or so-called illegal miners in post-apartheid South Africa as well as some of the gender dynamics involved in this phenomenon. It highlights the diachronic set of social relationships amongst the zama zamas at disused mines in Welkom, both inside and outside the mines. Unlike the few existing studies on the subject that focus on the mining processes and marketing of the illegally mined gold, this study will explore the lived experiences of Zimbabwean illegal miners with particular focus on their nuanced social and economic wellbeing. It creates a confluence of South Africa’s mining and immigration policies and demonstrates how Zimbabwean illegal miners in Welkom have negotiated the two in their quest to earn a living during the period under study (c.1994 to present).

Completed projects summary
  • The end of history? The ANC centenary in perspective
  • Gendering security sector reform in Africa
  • Sexual and gender-based violence in South Africa: corrective rape and the prevalence of heteronormative and hypermasculine codes
  • Post-conflict reconstruction and development in Africa: conceptual roots, role-players, policy and practice
  • Discursive and material gender dynamics of liberal peace-building in Africa
  • Dynamics of intertextuality in the rhetorical imprint of Nelson Mandela
  • Oral histories and the cultural uses of clay at sacred sites in the Free State
  • Communities in communion: Religious integration at South African sacred sites in the Eastern Free State

Completed projects in profile

Sexual violence and peacekeeping

This project was supported by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council and the University of Reading and entailed a series of consultations with interest groups to facilitate the creation of a new research agenda and a broad network on sexual violence and peacekeeping. The first consultation took place in February 2016, followed by two further consultations shaped by the outcomes of the initial event. Prof. Heidi Hudson was part of the steering committee of this project. This network platform provided a unique opportunity to bring together leading experts and practitioners to develop the structure and substance of a research agenda that is reflective of policy concerns, responsive to the rights of victims, and respectful of the legal and policy concerns of the UN and other institutions that undertake peacekeeping activities.

The State of Gender in the Indian Ocean Rim Association

The project was supported by the State of Gender in the Indian Ocean Rim Association NRF Grant in collaboration with the IORA-SA and the Department of International Relations and Cooperation. The study conducted a baseline assessment on IORA, a 21 strong member state association that prioritises international cooperation for sustainability among Indian Ocean Rim states. The project is led by Dr Joleen Steyn Kotze, a research fellow of the CAS since 2014. Part of the key priority areas under the South African leadership of the Indian Ocean Rim Association related to questions of gender and women empowerment within this multi-member state entity. The study was showcased at the 23rd IORA Member States Meeting in 2017.

Corrective Rape and Black Lesbian Sexualities in Contemporary South African Cultural Texts

This was the doctoral research project of Dr Nadine Lake during her tenure at the Centre for Gender Research at Uppsala University from 2014 until 2016. The term corrective rape has been used to define rape that is perpetrated by heterosexual males against lesbian women in order to ‘correct’ or ‘cure’ them of their lesbian sexuality. The increased recognition of lesbian, gay, transgender and intersex rights in post-apartheid South Africa has meant increased visibility for sexual minorities but has simultaneously been marked by an increase in homophobic discourse and violence. Discourse in mainstream media or the printed press has contributed to the framing of black lesbians as unintelligible victims. The primary aim of the study was to clarify how lesbian women are represented in cultural texts and to identify counter discourses that focus on lesbian agency and desire, which is less commonly associated with their sexuality. While this study deemed it important to highlight prominent debates and media representations of black lesbian sexuality in South Africa it considered it important to resist the reproduction of narratives that associate black lesbian women with sexual violence. The study examined multiple ‘texts’ in the post-apartheid context for instance Rozena Maart’s novel, The Writing Circle, Zandile Nkunzi Nkabinde’s autobiography illustrating the power of narrations of lesbian agency as well as the visual archive of Zanele Muholi.

Dynamics of Intertextuality in the Rhetorical Imprint of Nelson Mandela

This research was conducted by Dr Stephanie Cawood as visiting research fellow to the African Studies Centre Leiden in the Netherlands from April to June 2016. The research explored explicit and implicit forms of intertextuality in the rhetoric of Nelson Mandela. Intertextuality is viewed as a mechanism of thought and part of the process of dianoia in Classical rhetoric as conceptualised by Aristotle and is also considered crucial in the ethos of a rhetor. The research is founded on the idea that all rhetors have a particular rhetorical imprint, that is a deep-seated impression derived from a cognitive core structure ordering experience and communication and present in all the rhetoric of that individual. Intertextual cues were sought in Mandela’s corpus of speeches, biographies, autobiography, anthologies of personal documents, the historical context and discourse communities he engaged with. When read against the historical context of the time, these texts provide insight into the dynamics of message production, personal relationships, personal beliefs and the contexts surrounding the production of certain texts and the discourse communities he engaged with. Biographical cues were sought in his upbringing in Xhosa culture, his mission school education, his political awakening in Johannesburg, his life in the struggle, his long prison term, the years after release and presidency. Thus far, explicit mappings include Afrikaans literary voices, Shakespeare and the ‘classics’, colleagues and friends from the struggle period, instances of self-referential intertextuality as well as intercontextuality of signs and symbols. The implicit mapping includes Churchill, the Gandhi-Nehru web of intertextuality, a Marxist-Socialist web including voices such as Castro and biblical allusion. To date, the most significant intertextuality found in Mandela’s rhetoric is the Gandhi-Nehru web with Nehru playing a particularly influential role in Mandela’s conception of struggle and his own life in that struggle.

African Identities and the Politics of Space and Othering

This project was the outflow of a CAS Colloquium entitled “Researching Africa across the Disciplines” as part of the Africa Day celebrations on 22 May 2013. The aim of the symposium was to raise awareness and theorise the interdisciplinary nature of African Studies across the Humanities, Social, Natural and Health Sciences. The event aimed to showcase cutting edge work done at the interface of various disciplines, and to explore the politics of interdisciplinary research on Africa. The African knowledge project with all its contestations was therefore central to the deliberations on the day. The publication, a Special Issue of Africa Insight 44(1), June 2014, guest edited by Professor Heidi Hudson and Professor Henning Melber, examined a range of African cases of ‘othering’ and interrogates the exclusionary effects of both discourses/narratives and political practices. The Special Issue covered a variety of academic disciplines in its theoretical synthesis of insights on alterity and the African knowledge project. Rich case studies drew on fields such as history, political science, communication science, sociology, cultural studies and social anthropology to capture the contemporary nuances of othering in an African context.

Representations of Otherness and Resistance

This project captured the multi-layered nuances of spatial, temporal, visual, sonic and performative dynamics within the context of Africa, and more specifically South Africa, as these relate to the core pillars of various artistic and alternative creative forms of representation of otherness and resistance. Among others, the project entails a critical examination of a range of South African cases of ‘othering and resistance’ by focusing on the exclusionary effects of both discourses/narratives and political practices. The goal is further to establish a digital archive on the theme of otherness, which would not only capture the South African space, but which would eventually include other parts of (Southern) Africa. The project was conceived and led by Prof Heidi Hudson (Centre for Africa Studies) with collaboration from numerous departments such as the Odeion School of Music, English, Afrikaans, Dutch, German and French, Fine Arts, Drama and Theatre Arts, the Johannes Stegmann Art Gallery (UFS), Political and Conflict Studies (NMMU), University of Johannesburg Art Gallery, Oliewenhuis Art Museum and the William Humphreys Art Gallery.

ANC Centenary Dialogue Series: The End of History? The ANC Centenary in Perspective

The ANC Centenary Dialogue Series, funded by Free State Premier’s Office, Free State Provincial Department of Sport, Arts, Culture and Recreation and the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung, was conceptualised and led by Prof. Kwandiwe Kondlo (Centre for Africa Studies) and ran from 2010 to 2014. 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) as well as a DVD box set of the lecture series.

NHC Project: Oral histories and the Cultural Uses of Clay at Sacred Sites in the Free State

The NHC Project was a multi-disciplinary project funded by the National Heritage Council on heritage resources at sacred sites in the Free State that ran from 2008 to 2010 under the leadership of Stephanie Cawood. The project was specifically concerned with the documenting of oral histories associated with particular sacred sites in the eastern Free State, as well as the cultural use of clay at these sites. The project followed a collaborative approach and numerous UFS departments, colleagues and postgraduate students contributed to the research, e.g. Stephanie Cawood (Centre for Africa Studies), Chitja Twala (Department of History), Bonisile Gcisa (Department of Music) and Tascha Vos (Centre of Environmental Management). The Strategic Cluster 1: Water Management in Water-Scarce Areas collaborated on aspects relating to water quality and its impact on the sacred sites. The project produced a research report, numerous conference presentations, two chapters in the edited book, Sacred Spaces and Contested Identities: Space and Ritual Dynamics in Europe and Africa (ISBN 978-1-59221-955-1 published by Africa World Press in 2014) and 2 scholarly articles in ISI listed peer reviewed journals.

SANPAD Project: Communities in communion-Religious integration at South African sacred sites in the Eastern Free State

This project ran from 2008 to 2015 and was sponsored by the South African Netherlands Research Programme on Alternative Development (SANPAD). The project was led by Prof. Philip Nel (UFS) with co-leader Dr E Malete (UFS) and Dutch research partners Prof Paul Post (University of Tilburg) and Prof. Walter van Beek (University of Tilburg/ASCLeiden). The project studied the dynamics, politics and complexities of the sacred sites in the Eastern Free State (Motouleng, near Clarens, Mautse, near Rosendal and Mantsopa, near Ladybrand). Major research sub-areas included the site dynamics and contestations at user community level, but also at regional and national level; pilgrimage to the sites; site geography and conceptions of sacrality; the sites within the religious landscape and identity construction; as well as a survey of rituals performed at these sites. A survey of the most important sites was also completed and field visits were made to similar sacred sites in adjacent Lesotho for purposes of comparison. This project produced 1 MA mini-dissertation, 1 research MA dissertation, 2 PhD theses, numerous conference presentations, and 1 edited book (Sacred Spaces and Contested Identities: Space and Ritual Dynamics in Europe and Africa, ISBN 978-1-59221-955-1 published by Africa World Press in 2014).


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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