Historical Trauma and Transformation
Welcome to Stellenbosch University

Academic Staff and Associates

Research Chair

Prof Pumla Image.jpg

Professor Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela, Research Chair. Her previous positions are, Professor in the Psychology Department at the University of Cape Town, and Senior Research Professor at the University of the Free State leading the initiative Studies in Trauma, Memory and Forgiveness. Her book, A Human Being Died that Night: A South African Story of Forgiveness won the 2004 Alan Paton Award, and the Christopher Award in the United States. The book has been published seven times, including translations in Dutch, German, Italian and Korean. This important scholarly work that explores the complexity and interwovenness of remorse, apology and forgiveness has been converted into a play and staged in major cities in South Africa, the UK, and the United States. Gobodo-Madikizela’s other books include Narrating our Healing: Perspectives on Healing Trauma, as co-author (2007), Memory, Narrative and Forgiveness: Perspectives on the Unfinished Journeys of the Past, as co-editor (2008), Breaking Intergenerational Cycles of Repetition: A Global Dialogue on Historical Trauma and Memory, as editor (2015).

She has co-edited three special issue journals: “Critical Psychology in Africa,” in Subjectivity: International Journal of Critical Psychology (2006), “Ethical Uncertainties in Psychoanalytic Practice and Research in Challenging Times” (2009), in the Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy in South Africa, (2009), and “Continuities and Transformation in the Aftermath of Conflict in Africa,” in Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society (2014).

In 2015 she was awarded the South African National Research Foundation (NRF) Chair for Historical Trauma and Memory, and in the same year received a five-year grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to establish the research initiative titled: Trauma, Memory and Representations of the Past | Transforming Scholarship in the Humanities and the Arts. She is a B-rated scholar on the National Research Foundation’s globally competitive evaluation and rating system for researchers.

E-mail: pumlagm1@gmail.com

Senior Researchers

Dr Christo Thesnaar.jpg Dr Samantha van Schalkwyk.jpg
Dr Samantha van Schalkwyk is a Senior Researcher and Postdoctoral Fellow at the Historical Trauma and Transformation Unit. Her work is concerned with questions of gender transformation in post-conflict settings. Her research interests include gender violence and identity, community-based research methodologies, and the psycho-social aspects of women's agency within the African socio-spatial landscape. She has published in international journals such as Feminism & Psychology and Violence against Women and is co-editor of the book, A Reflexive Inquiry into Gender Research: Towards a New Paradigm of Knowledge Production and Exploring New Frontiers of Gender Research in Southern Africa (Cambridge Scholars Publishers, 2015). Samantha is currently leading a major 'Disrupting Patriarchy' project at the University of the Free State. She is exploring significant moments of connection among male and female students and the ways in which gendered social conditioning may be disrupted and transformed through dialogues between women and men.

E-mail: vanschalkwyk.samantha@gmail.com

Melike Image.jpg

Dr Melike Fourie is a Senior Researcher leading the neuroscientific investigation of empathy in the Historical Trauma and Transformation Unit. She holds an MSc in cognitive neuropsychology from University College London (2006), and a PhD in neuroscience from the University of Cape Town (2011). Melike is trained in both experimental neuroscience (including neuroimaging and psychophysiological techniques) and clinical neuropsychology. Her research interests fall within the domains of social and affective neuroscience, with a particular focus on how the cultural environment and (racial) group membership affect empathic responding toward out-group others. Current projects include assessment of and intervention in cross-race relationships in the workplace, the neuroscience of forgiveness, racial differences in value perception and attribution, and issues around perspective-taking, identity and dissonance amongst college students. Melike has lectured broadly in cognitive neuroscience, clinical neuropsychology, and statistics, and has several publications in international neuroscientific journals.​
E-mail: marethem@gmail.com

Research Associates

Dr Christo Thesnaar.jpgDr Christo Thesnaar is Associate Professor in Pastoral Care and Counseling in the Faculty of Theology, Stellenbosch University. His research interests are centred on the topics of reconciliation, memory, forgiveness, healing and justice and how these processes intesect with religion in post-conflict contexts.

E-mail: cht@sun.ac.za

Kopano Image.jpgKopano Ratele is a Professor at the University of South Africa (Unisa) and researcher for the Unisa Violence, Injury and Peace Research Unit based at the South African Medical Research Council. His research, teaching, social-political activism, and community mobilisation focuses on the subject of men and masculinity as it intersects with violence, class, traditions, sexuality, and race. He has published over 100 peer-reviewed journals articles and book chapters, five edited books, and the critically acclaimed There Was This Goat (with Antjie Krog and Nosisi Mpolweni). His latest book is Liberating Masculinities (2016).​

E-mail: Kopano.Ratele@mrc.ac.za

Mandisa Image 2.jpg Dr Mandisa Malinga completed her PhD at the University of South Africa in 2016. During her PhD studies she held a split-site Commonwealth doctoral scholarship for a year, during which she was in residence at the Centre for Women's Studies, University of York in the UK. Her research explored constructions of fatherhood among unemployed South African black men, and focused on a group of men who stand at traffic lights and look for work by the roadside near a Cape Town indusrial area. Her research interests include gender and masculinities, feminism, violence prevention, and race and identity.

E-mail: mandisamalinga@gmail.com

Buhle.jpg Dr Buhle Zuma is a young scholar who until recently was at the University of Cape’s Psychology Department. He is currently the co-founder and chairman of the newly established Institute for the Study of the Human. A former Mandela Rhodes Scholar, Dr Zuma completed his PhD in Social Psychology at the University of Cape Town and St Andrew’s University. His current research and writing revolves around the question of freedom; what it means to be human for black people after centuries of dehumanisation. His other areas of research interest are Post-colonial Psychology and Philosophical Anthropology. He describes his developing thought and work as Philosophical Psychology of Black Existence.

E-mail: buhle.zuma@gmail.com

Jean Decety Image.jpgProfessor Jean Decety is the Irving B. Harris Distinguished Service Professor, and professor of psychology and psychiatry at the University of Chicago. He is a leading scholar on the social and developmental neuroscience of empathy, moral judgment, and prosocial behavior, as well as other topics related to how we feel, think and behave in social situations. His research uses a multi-level approach (from genes to behavior), including neuroimaging and eye-tracking techniques. Decety is the founding editor of the journal Social Neuroscience and co-founder of the Society for Social Neuroscience.

E-mail: decety@uchicago.edu