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Polyandry strikes at the heart of patriarchyhttp://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=8300Polyandry strikes at the heart of patriarchyLize Mills & Amanda Gouws<p></p><p>Polyandry gets men hot under the collar because it strikes at the heart of patriarchy and can break their monopoly over women's sexuality, domestic and care labour, and their property. This is the view of Dr Lize Mills (Department of Private Law) and Prof Amanda Gouws (Department of Political Science) in an opinion piece for <em>Daily Maverick</em> (1 June).</p><ul><li>​Read the article below or click <a href="https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2021-06-01-mostly-men-are-up-in-arms-over-polyandry-because-it-strikes-at-the-heart-of-patriarchy/"><strong class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0" style="">here</strong></a><strong class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0" style=""> </strong>for the piece as published.<br></li></ul><p><strong>Lize Mills and Amanda Gouws*</strong><br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">In South Africa, there are men who have as many as ten wives according to polygynous marriage practice that is legal in South Africa. But when women desire to have more than one husband, also called polyandry, all hell breaks loose. Or this is what the reaction to the mere mention in the Green Paper, published by the Department of Home Affairs in May this year, that “activists submitted that equality demands that polyandry be legally recognised as a form of marriage" shows. Mostly men are up in arms. Some have claimed that polyandry will “destroy family values", “has never existed" and will demand more DNA tests to determine who the father of a child is.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Hence, a woman must never be allowed to have more than one husband, let alone ten. Nor must same-sex partners be able to have more than one spouse. What is good for the gander, cannot be good for the goose.  What this means is that South Africa must ignore section 9 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996; the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act, 4 of 2000; the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa 2003; and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, 1979 (CEDAW), all confirming women's equality, because the social evils that will follow will be too much to bear. <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">However, a study published in 2012 by Starkweather and Hames of 53 societies outside of the classical Himalayan and Marquesean area that permit polyandrous unions, found that polyandry may have existed throughout human evolutionary history. Polyandry, which is also practiced in parts of Nigeria, Cameroon and Kenya, becomes more likely where the operational sex ratio is male-biased (there are more men than women in the society), environmental resources are scarce (it is believed to limit population growth and enhance child survival) or men are forced into prolonged absences from home. In these societies, men are committed to be involved in the raising of children, because the children belong to all of them (no man can be certain of his paternity), and in the case of fraternal polyandry (brothers who marry the same wife), a joint estate remains intact from generation to generation.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">The benefits of polyandry show that because there is no single (male) authority in polyandrous households, power is dispersed through the union.  Property is usually owned collectively which means that nobody is excluded from property ownership, even after one of the husbands dies. These unions are also economically more prosperous because women are not economically dependent on one man. Paternity is not located in who fathered the child but in the knowledge that any of the men can be the father and therefore fathering is a social and collective issue and men are more committed to be involved in child rearing. Children and property belong to families not individuals. As far as women are concerned, it gives them more agency (decision making capacity) and control over their sexuality and their bodies. <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">In May 2021, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women again expressed its concern regarding the “alarmingly high" levels of domestic violence and femicide in South Africa. In several of its reports, it has called for the abolition of polygamy since it has “grave ramifications" for the human rights of women. Their 2021 report was issued following information that was submitted by several NGOs working with female victims of violence, pointing out that the extraordinary levels of gender-based violence in this country are also exacerbated by polygyny. In fact, in a joint general recommendation in 2014, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women and the Committee on the Rights of the Child discussed the relationship between polygynous relationships and violence against women and children, criticising “[c]onstitutional and other provisions that protect the right to culture and religion … used to justify laws and practices that allow for polygamous unions". The South African Recognition of Customary Marriages Act of 1998 allows for polygynous unions. By permitting only polygyny, the Government is contravening Article 5(a) of CEDAW, an international legal instrument that the country ratified in 1995, and thus negating to take appropriate measures “[t]o modify the social and cultural patterns of conduct of men and women, with a view to achieving the elimination of prejudices and customary and all other practices which are based on the idea of the inferiority or the superiority of either of the sexes or on stereotyped roles for men and women". <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">So, why is the reaction of men so stark when it comes to polyandry? We argue that polyandry is deeply threatening because it poses a challenge that strikes at the heart of patriarchy. In most heterosexual relationships a man enjoys a monopoly over his wife's sexuality, domestic and care labour and her property and can claim a right to children born of that union.  A father therefore can know with great certainty who his children are. Polyandry diminishes male dominance and the control over women's sexuality, something that is integral to patriarchy. In her landmark article “The Traffic in Women: Notes and the 'Political Economy' of Sex" (1975) Gayle Ruben (a cultural anthropologist) argues that we need to understand kinship relationships and how women fit into “gift transactions". Women are the objects of exchange in monogamous or polygamous marriages.  As she puts it - women are given in marriage (the father gives his daughter away), taken in battle, exchanged for favours, traded, bought and sold, or forced into arranged marriages.  In this gift exchange men dispose of women, but women cannot dispose of men, giving men power over women.  But more than merely the exchange of women, kinship systems also exchange sexual access, genealogical statuses, lineage names and ancestors in concrete systems of social relationships.  It spells out the rights of men in relation to women - this is embedded in the power and the control over women's sexuality that determines how families are constructed and governed.  What polyandry does is that it undermines these power relations, prevents control over women's sexuality and enhances women's agency, at the same time as it demands of men to care for their children.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Polygamy and polyandry therefore are not symmetrical systems, because polygamy gives men access to more than one woman to satisfy his sexual needs, with the benefit of having multiple wives rearing his children, very often with little help from his side. Research shows that polyandry, on the other hand, is more egalitarian, ensures greater care equality and more harmonious relationships between all parties involved. <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">By legalising polyandry nobody will be forced into such marriages. It will be a matter of personal decision, just like same sex marriages is a personal decision.  It is time that South Africans who still oppose same sex marriages and now polyandrous marriages reflect on their attitudes that are deeply sexist, homophobic, unconstitutional and offensive.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;"><em>*</em><em>Dr Lize Mills is a Senior Lecturer at the Faculty of Law at Stellenbosch University (SU). </em><em>Prof Amanda Gouws is the SARChI Chair in Gender Politics at SU.</em></p><p style="text-align:justify;"><em>​ ​</em></p><p>​<br></p>
English Department celebrates 2021 Nobel Literary Laureate Abdulrazak Gurnah http://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=8741English Department celebrates 2021 Nobel Literary Laureate Abdulrazak Gurnah Prof Sally Ann Murray and Lynne Rippenaar-Moses<p style="text-align:justify;">​Abdulrazak Gurnah's novels have long been on the reading lists for undergraduate and postgraduate students in the English Department at Stellenbosch University. The recent announcement that the Zanzibari-born author had been awarded the 2021 Nobel Prize for Literature was therefore widely celebrated by members of the department and the general SU community. <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Nobel Prizes are awarded by the Swedish Academy in Stockholm.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">“Gurnah's 2021 Nobel Prize for Literature is a spectacular achievement by an exceptional novelist. He is the only black African writer to be so lauded since 1986, and there is no better time than now to immerse yourself in his fictional world," said Sally Ann Murray, Professor in the English Department. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">“Gurnah has a strong personal association with the English Department, established through the department's longstanding commitment to growing the research and teaching focus area of Eastern African literatures as a neglected aspect of 'the postcolonial' and Indian Ocean Studies. His novels, among them <em>By the Sea</em>, have been important elements of SU's undergraduate English literature syllabi since 2008, and his oeuvre is the subject of doctoral dissertations produced by Graduate School scholarship holders in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences," she added.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Over the years, a number of SU colleagues have published on his work, notably in the 2013 special issue of <em>English Studies in Africa</em> which curated critical perspectives on Gurnah's fiction from South Africa, the African continent, and international commentators. Gurnah's fiction also features prominently in Prof Tina Steiner's <em>Convivial Worlds: Writing Relation from Africa</em> (Routledge, 2021).</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Steiner, an Associate Professor in English, has for many years fostered the department's ongoing connection with Gurnah. He has been a keynote speaker at two international conferences hosted in Stellenbosch by the department – "<a href="https://www.soas.ac.uk/africa/events/08apr2010-the-cape-and-the-cosmopolitan-reading-zo-wicomb.html"><span style="text-decoration:underline;">The Cape & the Cosmopolitan: Reading Zoë Wicomb</span></a><span style="text-decoration:underline;">,</span>" convened with the University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies in 2010, and, in 2016, the 17<sup>th</sup> Triennial Conference of the Association for Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies, hosted in collaboration with the University of the Western Cape. Moreover, he presented a plenary lecture at the international colloquium, “Migrant Meditations," which took place at Humboldt University in Germany in 2013 and was co-hosted by SU, Humboldt and Cheikh Anta Diop University in Senegal. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">“On the strength of these relationships, Gurnah took up an Artist-in-Residence Fellowship at STIAS in 2018, where he worked on his most recently-published novel, <em>Afterlives</em><em> </em>(2020)."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">The book has been praised by Ethiopian-American novelist Maaza Mengiste in <em>The Guardian</em> as “[r]iveting and heartbreaking," a “ compelling novel … that gathers close all those who were meant to be forgotten, and refuses their erasure".</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Gurnah is the author of “ten immensely readable novels" and multiple short stories that revisit history through the “small lives" of displaced, refugee or migrant characters. <a href="https://theconversation.com/nobel-winner-abdulrazak-gurnahs-fiction-traces-small-lives-with-wit-and-tenderness-169585"><span style="text-decoration:underline;">See Steiner's opinion article in The Conversation.</span></a></p><p style="text-align:justify;">He is Professor Emeritus of English and Postcolonial Literatures at the University of Kent and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2006. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">Once a schoolboy refugee to England in the wake of Zanzibar's violent revolution of independence, Gurnah had to work through his A levels, and gradually make a life for himself, with writing as a way to process cultural alienation. This influential migrant author is not easily located within the world literary system. Murray explains that “His fiction brings islands to unstable life, showing them as <em>relational</em> rather than insular spaces, and he treats the interior of a country as rich terrain for emotionally-conflicted stories of families and historical trauma."<br><br>As Steiner notes, “The Eastern African region and the Swahili Coast, in particular, remain key to the lives and ideas which Gurnah's novels engage, mapping tangled lines of encounter with England and Englishness. Zanzibar, Dar es Salaam, Bagamoyo, Mombasa, Lake Tanganyika, Nairobi, Muscat, Bahrain – Gurnah's diasporic narratives trace swirling histories of love and loss through transnational and transoceanic movements, referencing the Eastern African slave trade and indenture, German and British colonial oppression, as well as the devastating forms of political and social exclusion associated with displacement and economic precarity."   </p><p style="text-align:justify;">Quoting Steiner and SU Research Associate Prof Maria Olaussen from the Department of Languages and Literatures at the University of Gothenburg, Murray said: “Gurnah's fiction underscores 'the idea of the storyteller narrating from 'a position of weakness' as a condition that keeps narratives open to the complexities of life where pockets of resistance, unusual encounters, and rare moments of kindness break the frame of often dystopian conditions." </p><p style="text-align:justify;">Photo: Prof Tina Steiner<br></p>
Press freedom important for quality journalismhttp://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=8211Press freedom important for quality journalismGawie Botma<p>​​Monday (3 May) was World Press Freedom Day. In an opinion piece for <em>Cape Times</em>, Dr Gawie Botma (Department of Journalism) tries to answer the following questions: When does information become journalism? and What is the relationship between journalism and press freedom?<br></p><ul><li><p>Read Botma's article below or click <a href="/english/Documents/newsclips/CT_NOW_E1_030521_P06%20(2).pdf"><strong class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0">here</strong></a><strong class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0"> </strong>for the piece as published. <br></p></li></ul><p>The theme for this year's World Press Freedom Day (3 May), “Information is a public good", invites the following questions: When does information become journalism? and What is the relationship between journalism and press freedom? This article explores South African newspaper history in search for answers.<br></p><p>The first newspaper in (what is today part of) South Africa was <em>The Cape Town Gazette and African Advertiser / Kaapse Stads Courant en Afrikaansche Berighter</em>, a bilingual weekly first published in the Cape Colony under British occupation in 1800. Although published by a private firm (whose many commercial dealings included a stake in the lucrative slave trade), the newspaper (<em>Gazette,</em> for short) was “under government sanction" from the start. </p><p>The press and newspaper, therefore, was not “free", a fact recognized and lamented by contemporary observers who were familiar with a growing newspaper industry in Europe and North America, but not in the “colonies" until later in the 19<sup>th</sup> century. The press, it was argued by colonial authorities at that time of constant European conflicts and wars, was potentially an inspiring, educational, uplifting instrument, but it also enabled the spread of revolutionary ideas among the populace, which could threaten the status quo. In other words, some, but not all, information was seen as a public good in the early 19<sup>th</sup> century. The authorities then, like today, controlled and tried to monopolize flows of information to ensure that only the information they regarded as good reached the public.</p><p>Current scholars in liberal constitutional democracies like South Africa, however, often do not consider information generated in repressive political environments – which includes the content of the <em>Gazette</em> – as journalism. Our current understanding is that journalism involves the free circulation of useful information, packaged as news, among citizens. Ideally, journalism will enable citizens to exercise public and private rights and fulfil obligations. Journalism, any South African journalism student will tell you, requires independence from government control and censorship, which was obviously not the case with the <em>Gazette.</em> </p><p>But is political control and influence the only potential disqualifier of journalism? What about commercial interests?<br></p><p>Besides the prominent publication of government proclamations and notices – which arguably also played a public service role – a major part of the weekly content of the <em>Gazette</em> was taken up by private commercial advertisements. The <em>Gazette</em> from the start had something in common with current models of journalism: it was paid for by advertisers and sponsors and had a profit motive. </p><p>But the claim of the <em>Gazette</em> to journalism does not end there, because snippets of international and local news were included regularly, albeit rather randomly. News content taken from international newspapers was included regularly, on which the <em>Gazette </em>would sometimes briefly comment, while local news and occurrences were covered under various headings and according to topics which vaguely resemble the much later diversification of journalism practice into “beats". </p><p>In other words, despite its rudimentary form and shortcomings the <em>Gazette </em>circulated information for the public good, paid for by advertisers, in a format and manner which is recognizable as a newspaper even today. Its motivation for providing this service was not altruistic, but neither is much of what is considered journalism today. Perhaps, therefore, the <em>Gazette </em>deserves more credit and attention from a journalistic perspective?</p><p>Even if the contribution of the <em>Gazette </em>to journalism<em> </em>is underemphasized, as some scholars do, because of its checkered past – a combination of overt government involvement and the connection of its private owners to slavery – it still illustrates the uneasy boundary between the provision of public information and journalism. It also shows that, from the beginning, journalism, as it struggled to emerge, was situated between the state and the marketplace. Depending on the time and place, one can be more dominant than the other, but the poles remain in place, which means that absolute press freedom does not exist. </p><p>As the <em>Gazette</em> indicates, journalism is able to emerge even from adverse conditions, like the authoritarian regimes of the colonial and apartheid past and the neoliberal commodified society of the present where information is produced in abundance, often without purpose. The <em>Gazette</em> in fact illustrates when information becomes journalism. It happens not simply because of a specific ownership structure, financial model or even public service motive, but when the content it provides serves society and its citizens, even despite itself. </p><p>History shows that journalism emerges when information in the public interest is provided, which means that journalism fades when information is useless. Relative levels of press freedom, from both political and economic interests, influence the quality of journalism. But journalism is possible even without a high degree of press freedom, while a press which is considered free could provide information which is not in the public interest.  <br></p><p><strong>*Dr Gawie Botma is a senior lecturer in the journalism department of the faculty of arts and social sciences at Stellenbosch University.</strong></p><p><br></p>
How to encourage poor young men to open up about vulnerabilitieshttp://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=8728How to encourage poor young men to open up about vulnerabilitiesCorporate Communication & Marketing / Korporatiewe Kommunikasie & Bemarking [Alec Basson]<p>​How does one encourage poor marginalised young men in informal settlements to speak with candour about their insecurities and challenges?<br></p><p>This is one of the key questions Patricia Zweig, a lecturer at the Research Alliance for Disaster and Risk Reduction (RADAR) at Stellenbosch University tried to answer in a study<strong>*</strong> published recently in the academic journal <a href="https://rgs-ibg.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/area.12751"><strong class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0">AREA</strong></a>. She explored how young men in informal settlements in Cape Town are made susceptible to risk and how this in turn shapes both their masculine identities and influences their behaviour.</p><p>According to Zweig, research has shown that statistically speaking young men in informal settlements are more often the victims of crime, suggesting a need to interrogate their vulnerability in these communities. Unfortunately, little has been written about this.<br></p><p>Zweig says because it is methodologically challenging to get vulnerable young men to open up about their challenges, she decided to use different methods such as storytelling, interviews using drawing methods adapted from those usually employed in participatory research, and diary-keeping to accommodate different personalities <strong>–</strong> from shy types needing some encouragement, to verbose young men with a lot to say.<br></p><p>“Exploring the perceptions of poor young men about life on the urban margins to determine how their vulnerability was constructed, required various methods for facilitating engagement with them, not only to understand their daily lives, but also to gain insights into their feelings and emotions.<br></p><p>“Given that oral storytelling is intrinsic to Xhosa culture, it was perhaps not surprising that the young men's engagement improved notably when structured interview sessions were abandoned for a mode of expression with which they were more comfortable and familiar. These “conversational narratives" also subtly shifted the balance of power, allowing them more ownership of the process.<br></p><p>“Asking the participants to draw while recounting their stories diverted their attention to their drawings, which was also useful when they felt awkward, ashamed or emotional, allowing them to keep their eyes averted."<br></p><p>Zweig adds that the research was enhanced by providing the young men with the space in which to lead and guide, and to explain and express themselves through drawing.<br></p><p>“For example, when speaking about his childhood in a rural area, one man felt the need to provide me with more context and drew the layout of his village, explaining the traditional hierarchy and process of daily life, while another participant sketched a diagram to explain his belief system, indicating his place in it."<br></p><p>To delve more deeply into the key themes emerging from the interviews, Zweig turned to the use of diary writing with a smaller group of men.<br></p><p>She asked them to write only when inspired to share a thought or emotion, rather than on a regular basis that might have undermined the candidness of their writing. Contributions of any length were acceptable, from a simple statement to multiple pages, depending on their mood and inclination.<br></p><p>“Diary-keeping allowed the young men more time for introspection and reflection, once again giving more power to them in the research process, while simultaneously building their self-esteem through a sense of personal achievement.<br></p><p>“Over time, due to their growing trust of me, some young men felt encouraged to open up further, often providing details they had previously omitted or describing emotions associated with their experiences."<br></p><p>Zweig says that allowing the young men to express themselves in ways they felt most comfortable with gave them more freedom.<br></p><p>“Some used different mediums depending on their mood – from poetry to freestyle writing, to simple yet emotive descriptions of daily life. The variation in forms of expression provided penetrating views into their lifeworlds."<br></p><p>According to Zweig, the use of methods specifically adapted to encourage disclosure and overcome constraints often noted when exploring emotional issues with men, but also considering culturally appropriate modes of self-expression, ensured that all participants found comfortable ways to share their stories.<br></p><p>She adds that this provided intimate views into the many and varied challenges young, marginalised men in informal settlements face, the somewhat ambivalent masculine identities they are vested in, and the nature of their perceived vulnerabilities in these communities.<br></p><ul><li><strong>SOURCE</strong>: Zweig, P 2021. Exploring men's vulnerability in the global South: Methodological reflections. <em>AREA</em> 00, 1–9: <a href="https://rgs-ibg.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/area.12751"><strong class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0">doi.org/10.1111/area.12751</strong></a></li></ul><p><strong><em>*</em></strong><em>This study is based, in part, on Patricia Zweig's recently submitted PhD thesis at Stellenbosch University.</em></p><p><strong>​FOR MEDIA ENQUIRIES ONLY</strong></p><p>Patricia Zweig</p><p>Research Alliance for Disaster and Risk Reduction (RADAR)</p><p>Stellenbosch University</p><p>Email: <a href="mailto:patriciazweig@sun.ac.za"><strong class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0">patriciazweig@sun.ac.za</strong></a> </p><p><strong>​ISSUED BY</strong></p><p>Martin Viljoen</p><p>Manager: Media</p><p>Corporate Communication & Marketing</p><p>Stellenbosch University<br></p><p>Tel: 021 808 4921</p><p>Email: <a href="mailto:viljoenm@sun.ac.za"><span class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0"><strong>viljoenm@sun.ac.za</strong></span></a> </p><p> </p><p>​<br></p>
Social workers have become the foot soldiers working to mend broken societieshttp://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=5503Social workers have become the foot soldiers working to mend broken societiesLynne Rippenaar-Moses<p style="text-align:justify;">In a country where violent crime has become part of the norm, where rape and sexual assault is reported to be of the highest in the world and where many South Africans live in abject poverty, social workers have become the foot soldiers working on the ground to combat the social issues that arise from these societal problems. For Professor Lambert Engelbrecht, an Associate Professor in social work and chair of the Social Work Department at Stellenbosch University, social workers have become essential in the fight to protect the most vulnerable in society. But, while this is the case, their quest is not an easy one with many having to work in a system that often do not provide them with the resources needed to make the impact they would like to.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">This is something that Engelbrecht has seen in his own research over the years. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">“My research during my Masters and doctoral studies focused on the supervision and management within the social work discipline and thanks to the papers that followed from that research, I participated in the Marie Skłodowska Curie International Research and Staff Exchange Scheme (IRSES) where I became involved in projects where we studied the financial philosophy of business principles applied in social work or what is referred to as neoliberalism and the impact of this in various countries. We also compared results between countries and the impact of this model of management on social work services," explains Engelbrecht. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">The research was inspired by the realisation that ironically the individual was often overlooked in the social work environment. A recent example of such a case, still fresh in the memories of many South Africans, led to the death of at least 143 vulnerable patients who were moved from Life Esidimeni, a state-run facility, to a number of NGOs that were ill prepared to accommodate these patients. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">“This is an example of how the Minister of Health tried to cut spending on persons with mental health problems but ended up doing so at the expense of the end user. The dehumanisation of vulnerable persons for the sake of financial sustainability showed that what may be considered to be better management principles that would lead to better services is often not what transpires in reality. Saving on costs is not always better for the client. This is also why I empathise with the protest marches by social workers in 2017 against the horrible working conditions they are exposed to because often what is just a political ball game at the top tend to impact extensively on those on the ground. There are many social workers out there with no telephones, computers or cars that are expected to deliver social services to the most vulnerable in our society."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">While Engelbrecht, who received the Stals Prize for Social Work from the South African Academy for Science and Arts in June 2017, no longer practices as a social worker, he has been pouring his expertise into research and educating up-and-coming social workers at the Social Work Department since 2003. Most of his time is spent focusing on the supervision and management of social workers and the training of social work students. This contribution as well as his work on the effects of neo-liberalism on social work service delivery is precisely why Engelbrecht received the Stals Prize. His research has already delivered more than 90 scientific outputs and he is highly regarded both locally and internationally. What makes this achievement even more unique, is the fact that Engelbrecht is only the third academic within the social work discipline to receive the prize, with one other scholar from the SU department, Prof Sulina Green, having received it in 2011. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">Like the department's philosophy – “we cultivate thought leaders in social development" – Engelbrecht and his colleagues focus on equipping students to think three dimensional and holistically. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">“In order to be prepared for what they will face in the field, we have to teach our students to think beyond assisting the most vulnerable or those with mental health issues, but to start looking at the structures within which they work and this involves understanding the micro and macro levels issues that impact on your industry and being able to engage with government at local and national level to bring about change.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">“We find that a lot of social workers are caught up in the day-to-day activities and the many crises they have to deal with and that functioning at another level, for example engaging with donors or working on an awareness campaign in communities versus helping a neglected child that need help now, will always come second."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">However, says Engelbrecht, the way that funding is spent within social work structures require that one starts looking at it like a business too. This is the reason that students that enter their lecture halls are taught to also ask questions about conditions within the field and learn how to put pressure on government structures through policy and advocacy groups to ensure they support those in the trenches more effectively.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">At SU, about 100  new students register for a degree in social work each year with about 300 undergraduate and postgraduate students studying at the department at any given time.  In 2017 these students rendered social work services as part of their practice education to 43 welfare organisations where they were supervised by 45 social workers.  The students were involved in 94  community projects and facilitated 197 small groups.  They were also involved in intervention to 579 families and individuals, and mentored 90 vulnerable children. In addition the students completed 57 research projects. </p><p>“So as you can see, social work is an intensive course, because you are expected to do the work as you are learning about it." </p><p>Asked about the high levels of violence and in particular child murders that have become quite prevalent in South Africa, Engelbrecht admits that poverty still has a major impact on the social wellbeing of South Africans in underprivileged communities. It's something the students see on a daily basis too.  </p><p>“When there is poverty it can also lead to turmoil within families because when there is no money, people tend to escape by abusing alcohol and drugs. You also find that children are often without supervision in poor communities and older kids are recruited into gangs because of a lack of supervision. This is the case in many instances because parents can often not afford child care when they work and thus children are left in the care of slightly older siblings, neighbours or older family members like a grandmother or grandfather."</p><p>The students, says Engelbrecht are therefore prepared during their studies to the deal with the realities of South African society as far as possible. “They are confronted with both academic expectations and with emotional challenges that other students  are not necessarily facing."</p><p>“While people often feel sorry for social workers due to the kind of work they do for little compensation and also see it as a course that does not required much academic  capacity,  very few people realise that social work is not an easy programme to follow, that students are often expected to think critically from the first day they arrive in class, and that both the emotional and  academic requirements are extremely high. There is a high demand in the field for social work graduates from Stellenbosch University owing to our student attributes which results in thought leaders, engaged citizens, well-rounded individuals and dynamic professionals. Therefore, our focus of training is not just on social work in local, traditional welfare organisations, but we also prepare students to work in diverse industries, contexts and internationally. We are extremely proud of the fact that 80% of our Masters' students passed their external moderated research theses in 2017  cum laude."</p><p>For Engelbrecht, in spite of the fact that the social problems that social workers deal with can sometimes seem never ending, seeing the rewards of his efforts, be it through his work with students, through his research, or the time he spent in the field, has been the most satisfying aspect of his job. </p><p>One of those moments for Engelbrecht happened in the mid-eighties in his third year of undergraduate studies. While doing community work in Wellington, he set up an informal care group for elderly, disadvantaged  people in the town. A decade later, after he completed his studies,  the group had developed into a fully-fledged service centre with a meals-on-wheels service as well.   </p><p>“I started the club for the elderly with 20  persons from the community. Nella, one of the persons who attended the group, suggested that we call it Gemoedrus back then. Our aim was to look at the type of services that the elderly community needed and to try and get those services provided through Gemoedsrus service centre," says Engelbrecht who assisted the group with finding facilities and also helped them find resources they could access for the group. </p><p>“I look back on that and realise that sometimes one plants a small seed that grows into something enormous and that just being there at the beginning, making a small contribution made a difference in the lives of many people for generations to come."</p><p>The most important lesson he has learnt over the years, he says, is to learn to listen more than one speaks. </p><p>“When I do my research I realise that my achievements in social work is not my own, it is owing to the voices of the unheard that are being heard, and so even the Stals Prize is an award that I received through the contributions of many other people." </p><p><em>Photo: Prof Engelbrecht with the Stals Prize (middle) he received from the South African Academy for Science and Arts in June 2017. With him is (left) </em><em> Prof Wessel Pienaar (Chairperson of the South African Academy of Science and Arts) and the Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at Stellenbosch University, Prof Anthony Leysens. (Photo supplied)</em></p>
#WomenofSU: Helping to shift perceptions and (mis-) understandings around sexual violencehttp://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=7624#WomenofSU: Helping to shift perceptions and (mis-) understandings around sexual violenceCorporate Communication & Marketing / Korporatiewe Kommunikasie & Bemarking<p>Sexual violence diminishes the human dignity of every citizen and wastes the wealth of human potential we have in South Africa. By asking questions about the meanings of sexual attack, Prof Louise du Toit from the Department of Philosophy tries to shift perceptions and (mis-) understandings around sexual violence in the country.<br></p><p>As part of South Africa's Women's Month celebrations, she tells us how her research is helping to change people's views on sexual violence.<br></p><p><strong>Can you tell us more about your research?</strong><br></p><p>My research has over many years focused on the problematic of sexual violence, contextualised within the South African post-colony. My feminist-philosophical approach (rooted in European and African philosophical frameworks and world senses) differs from most other approaches to the problem, in that I ask typical philosophical questions about the phenomenon, e.g. what are the meanings of sexual attack, in war and peace and in transitional societies, for survivors and perpetrators respectively, in institutional contexts, and within nation-states? By asking about the meanings of sexual attack, and how such meanings are mobilised to have real material and power effects in the world, I remain aware of how different contexts rely on different meanings of the 'same' phenomenon; and even within the same event, different meanings may well be at play. </p><p>In fact, French post-structuralist philosopher Michel Foucault has famously said, sexuality is 'an especially dense transfer point for relations of power', and I think this is exactly right. Our sexuality is rooted in our life energy, and thus in our primal power to make a difference in the world, to transcend ourselves in the direction of the world and others. That is why sexual attack is potentially devastating: irrespective of conscious perpetrator motives, the logic of sexual attack is that it aims to destroy victims' worlds, voices, and agency, their being and becoming in the world. I thus understand sexual violence as a crude but very basic and very effective means for re-distributing power in the world. <br></p><p>This means that sexual attack usually has very different, even opposing, meanings for perpetrators who typically find it either trivial or exhilarating, and empowering, and survivors, who often experience the 'same' event as world-shattering, as destroying their most basic trusts in the world, in others, and in themselves. <br></p><p>Studying sexual violence has therefore also made me acutely aware of how meaning-making is always contingent and always contested. It is one thing to ask what the dominant meanings of something are in fact (e.g. in what we call a 'rape culture', dominant institutions such as the police, the courts and schools and universities, tend to adopt the perspective of perpetrators rather than of victims of sexual violence), and quite another to ask what the meanings <em>should be</em>. Even though philosophy asks very fundamental questions and may therefore become quite abstract or general at times, at the same time I want to employ the powerful critical tools of feminist philosophy to do something in the world: I want to shift our society's understanding of what sexual violence is and what it does in the world.  </p><p><strong>Why or how did you become interested in this specific area of research?</strong></p><p>It was 2001 and I was thinking about a possible topic for my PhD. My children were still small at the time, the youngest was 3 years old. Then came the sensational news about the rape of nine-month-old Baby Tshepang in the impoverished township of Louisvale near Upington. At the time, many people were still in the honeymoon daze of our political transition and brand new, progressive Constitution, and I was thoroughly shaken by my inability to grasp what had happened there. Then I decided – in a time when it had not yet been done much – to apply the critical tools provided by my training in philosophy, to the phenomenon of sexual violence in South Africa. </p><p>My first important insight was to discover how rape and sexual attack had not really been addressed by the TRC, it not being one of the 'serious human rights violations' people were being called to report to the Commission. Reading through the reports with a feminist lens, I realised that everything political, even ironically the transition to democracy itself, was still in our case understood in masculine terms, with women (citizens) being derivative, secondary, and an afterthought. In fact, in spite of a mass women's movement across race, class and political affiliation during negotiations and transition, gradually we could see a new form of patriarchy simply replacing the older form of it. The sexual violence endemic in South Africa is amongst other things an indication of women's systemic, dire, and continuing, lack of political standing and voice. <br></p><p>One is tempted to think democracy was never meant for women, and has not yet arrived for women. Of course, in making such statements, one has to also take into account how this situation is still vastly differently distributed across women differently placed in our society in terms of race, class, sexual orientation and so on. I have therefore always read the problem of sexual violence in our society alongside the larger national political scene – how does the systemic oppression of women through (fear of) sexual violence keep women in their subservient place?   <br></p><p><strong>Why do you think this is such an important area of research for South African women?</strong></p><p>There is not a woman or girl in our beautiful and sad country who has not personally experienced the fear or reality of sexual attack at some point. This is our lived condition. I have tried to describe above why sexual attack cannot be reduced to a purely personal or private matter, or ascribed to a few evil men and their few unlucky (unwise?) victims. It is a systemic problem, and a large part of the problem lies in institutional complicities. Our institutions too often take the side of perpetrators, protecting them or treating them leniently (often also protecting their 'brand' or 'image' in the process), and blaming victims for their own injuries. <br></p><p>Those inclined to sexually attack others are time and again reassured by the fact that statistically, they have roughly a 95% chance of getting away with it. The dice are loaded against victims in our society. We know how devastating rape trials are to the victims, not the perpetrators. Typically, rape trials are structured in such a way that they discourage victims from reporting and seeking justice. Once victims of sexual violence are convinced that societal institutions (the police, the courts, our workplaces) do not recognise sexual crimes as crimes, there is no longer any point in seeking justice for oneself. Effectively, the crime disappears in that the injustice is doubled. <br></p><p>Not only are victims attacked in the most crudely disempowering way, but the harms they suffer, are also not acknowledged, do not register properly as harms yet in our society. But I do want to add a point here that I feel very strongly about. In our society, it is not only women and girls who are sexually attacked, and although male perpetrators are the overwhelming majority, some women are also guilty, either of personal or institutional complicity, or even of direct perpetration. <br></p><p>I feel we can really illuminate the nature of the crime and its harms if we thoroughly integrate both in our analyses and in our responses, the thousands of male victims who are at the moment invisible and inaudible – even more so than the female victims. Vulnerable boys in our societies get sexually exploited, and prison rape seems to be pervasive, the rule rather than the exception. There is also some evidence that gangs use rape to punish members. Male on male rape seems to make it easier for people to understand how sexual attack functions to redistribute power, to shore up power for the perpetrators, and render the victims vulnerable to further exploitation. <br></p><p>The full inclusion of male and boy victims in our analyses and policies around sexual violence has the potential to shift our discourses on sexual violence in necessary and important ways. So, both directly (as victims and potential victims) and indirectly (because most men have mothers, sisters, nieces and daughters), this research is also of great importance for South African men.<br></p><p><strong>What would you consider the greatest impact of your research on women in the country?</strong></p><p>The hope is that my work helps to gradually start to shift perceptions and (mis-) understandings around sexual violence in the country. Because sexual violence is everybody's problem (although it is often turned into a narrow 'women's issue') and ultimately diminishes the human dignity of every citizen, and severely diminishes and wastes the wealth of human potential we have in this country, I always try to engage both men and women on this topic, in particular those in positions of power and decision-making (most often men). <br><br></p><p>Moreover, it is not only men who misunderstand and trivialise sexual violence; often women are guilty of this, too. Often even survivors of sexual violence buy into patriarchal understandings of their experience and internalise the guilt and blame themselves. These are the types of distorted meanings that I target through my critical work. It has potentially transformative implications for how the first respondents such as police officers and medical personnel treat sexual violence victims; for how rape trials are conducted; for trauma therapy; for how institutions such as churches, schools, colleges and universities, and even international criminal tribunals and peace commissions, should respond to victims of sexual attack. I see my work as speaking to a range of different disciplines, theatres and contexts.    <br></p><p><strong>Do you have any message for the next generation of women researchers?</strong></p><p>What has helped me enormously in my career as a female and feminist researcher, have been supportive networks of women researchers. Sometimes one has to seek out these comrades-in-arms further afield than simply in one's own institution; sometimes they are close at hand. I have had inspiring groups of researchers sharing the same passions and interests, who have helped to bring out the best in me. Such environments in which feminist creativity and solidarity flourish, typically combine two crucial aspects, namely safety and challenge in just the right balance. Find, or create and invest in such networks, friendships, and spaces, the incubators of intellectual creativity.  <br></p><p><br></p>
SU shines in latest global ranking of academic subjectshttp://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=9329SU shines in latest global ranking of academic subjectsCorporate Communication & Marketing / Korporatiewe Kommunikasie & Bemarking [Alec Basson]<p>​If you want to study Food Science and Technology, Communication and Agricultural Sciences in South Africa, then Stellenbosch University (SU) is the place to be. According to the 2022 ShanghaiRanking's <a href="https://www.shanghairanking.com/rankings/gras/2022"><strong class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0">Global Ranking of Academic Subjects</strong></a> (GRAS) released recently, SU is the best university in the country in these subjects. It is the only South African university to be ranked for Food Science and Technology (in the top 150 globally) and for Communication (among the best 300 globally). In Agricultural Sciences, SU made it into the top 200 universities in the world. In addition, SU shares first place in Biotechnology with the University of Cape Town (UCT) and Political Science with UCT and the University of Johannesburg respectively. Overall, SU is one of the 500 best institutions in the world in 14 of the 54 subjects featured on the list for 2022.<br></p><p>ShanghaiRanking began to publish its world university ranking by academic subjects in 2009. By introducing improved methodology, the GRAS was first published in 2017. The 2022 GRAS contains rankings of universities in 54 subjects across Natural Sciences, Engineering, Life Sciences, Medical Sciences, and Social Sciences. More than 1 800 out of 5 000 universities across 96 countries and regions are finally listed in the rankings.</p><p>The Rankings use a range of objective academic indicators and third-party data to measure the performance of universities in relevant subjects, including research output, research influence, international collaboration, research quality, and international academic awards.</p><p>Earlier this year, SU also ranked among the best tertiary institutions in the world on the<a href="/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=9049"> <strong class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0">QS World University Rankings by Subject</strong></a> having achieved the top ranking of all South African universities in Agriculture and Forestry, Theology, Divinity and Religious Studies. In 2021, the <a href="/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=8646"><strong class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0">Times Higher Education World University Subject Rankings</strong></a> listed SU as the country's best university in Computer Science.</p><p> </p><p>​<br></p>
Arts Faculty helps secure grant to build capacity for early career scholars in Africahttp://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=6460Arts Faculty helps secure grant to build capacity for early career scholars in AfricaLynne Rippenaar-Moses<p style="text-align:justify;">​​​The Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at Stellenbosch University has helped secure a grant of R13.6 million from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for the newly developed Building Capacity for Early Career Humanities Scholars in Africa (BECHS-Africa) programme.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">The three-year transnational programme will offer residency for 30 early career scholars in the humanities to enhance their research agenda. Scholars will be chosen from the institutions that make up the BECHS-Africa partnership: the University of Ghana, the American University in Cairo, Egypt, SU, and the Washington University in Saint Louis, USA, with the University of Ghana as the lead institution. Eight fellows will be chosen from Stellenbosch University. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">The BECHS-Africa will provide avenues for early career scholars to spend an academic term of up to six months in a region of Africa other than their own, or in a global north institution. The programme is informed by research conducted in the United Kingdom by the British Academy and the Association of Commonwealth Universities in 2011. The study “noted that the years following the completion of a PhD are critical to the establishment of a successful research career, as it is during that phase that the skills and knowledge developed through postgraduate training are cemented".</p><p style="text-align:justify;">The Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at SU, Prof Anthony Leysens, was involved in the formulation of the grant proposal. Others who worked on the proposal include Professors Samuel Kwame Offei and Samuel Agyei-Mensah from the University of Ghana; Professor Jean Allman of Washington University in Saint Louis; and Associate Professor Syed Maswood of the American University in Cairo.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">“The opportunity for early career scholars in our faculty to spend a considerable amount of time at our partner institutions (made possible by teaching buy-out) and focus on their own research and under the supervision of a leading scholar is invaluable. South African academics will be exposed to an environment which will certainly shape their thinking and direct their academic career. Younger scholars are usually inundated with teaching, together with the need to be a productive researcher. This initiative enables them to focus, with support, and within a unique environment on their research," said Leysens.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">He added that the faculty was also “committed to expanding its collaborations with universities on the continent and to participate in initiatives launched by other African universities". The BECHS-African programme, he said, fits in well with other established programmes for early career academics that faculty already participates in. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">At present, SU belongs to networks like the Partnership for Africa's Next Generation of Academics (PANGeA), of which the University of Ghana is also a partner. PANGeA is a “collaborative network of leading African universities developing research capacity and confidence in bringing African expertise to Africa's challenges". SU is one of eight partners that belong to this network. It contributes to this partnership through the Graduate School of Arts and Social Sciences based at the faculty.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">The Graduate School itself focuses on strengthening and advancing doctoral training and scholarship on the African continent. It has enrolled more than 220 full-time PhD scholars from 18 sub-Saharan African countries since 2010. To date, 134 PhD candidates have graduated via the graduate school, with many junior academic staff returning to their institutions to take up research and academic positions. In this manner, the School contributes directly to stemming the brain drain of academics from the African continent. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">In 2016, the PANGeA-Ed training and skills development programme was launched. It focuses on the development of research capacity in the arts, humanities and social sciences through research-based research and scholarship support on all the PANGeA campuses in Africa. A year later, the PANGeA Early Career Fellowship programme, which aims to identify academic leaders in the arts, humanities and social sciences in Africa, was established. It offers eight-week residencies at SU for 50 staff members within the PANGeA network over four years (2017 to 2020).</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Leysens said that the BECHS-African programme will further expand on all the work done to capacitate early career academics through the PANGeA and the Graduate School by allowing scholars to combine the experiences they have gained while studying towards their doctoral degree;  acquire new research skills that are essential to the successful further development of their academic career; and start building a wide range of networks that will only benefit their career development. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">At the same time, he said, early career academics from other African institutions will benefit from exposure to the faculty's top-rated scholars. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">“There is also the value-add opportunity for our own members of staff to spend time on the campuses of the other partners. At the same time, we will host fellows from our partners on this campus," said Leysens.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">​“My vision is for our faculty to embrace its African identity, to focus on the continent's challenges and opportunities and to increase our teaching and research partnerships with other African universities. This is an exciting opportunity for our younger colleagues to embrace this vision and to, at the same time, receive early career mentorship."<br></p>
Prof Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela receives third honorary doctoratehttp://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=6370Prof Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela receives third honorary doctorateCorporate Communication / Korporatiewe Kommunikasie [Alec Basson]<p>​Professor Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela, Research Chair in Studies in Historical Trauma and Transformation at Stellenbosch University (SU), received an honorary doctorate from Rhodes University in Grahamstown on Friday (12 April 2019). This was her third honorary degree after having been honoured in similar fashion by Holy Cross College in Massachusetts, USA and Friedlich Shiller University Jena in Germany. <br></p><p>Gobodo-Madikizela, an alumna of Rhodes University, received the degree Doctor of Laws (LLD), honoris causa, for her trailblazing work to research topics such as guilt, remorse, forgiveness, the dialogue between perpetrators and victims as well as the way in which trauma is experienced by individuals and in political systems. <br></p><p>Rhodes University praised her for her contribution to trauma research and her efforts to relay the stories of victims, to humanise offenders and to bring a message of hope, empathy, dialogue, forgiveness and reconciliation to a society characterised by violence and trauma. <br></p><p>In her <a href="/english/Documents/newsclips/A%20New%20Vision%20of%20the%20Postclolonial%20-%20Rhodes%20Award.pdf" style="text-decoration:underline;"><span class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0" style="text-decoration:underline;"><strong>acceptance speech</strong></span>​</a>, Gobodo-Madikizela expressed her gratitude for the honour bestowed upon her. She said she was fully aware of the honour and challenge locked up in this award that came from a university that encouraged his alumni to lead and to be torchbearers. She encouraged the graduands to take up their places as leaders in society and to campaign for justice and equity. <br></p><p>This is the third time that Gobodo-Madikizela was honoured by Rhodes University. She received the institution's Social Change and Distinguished Old Rhodian Award in 2010 and 2017 respectively. </p><p>She was a member of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Human Rights Violations Committee. She has received several international and national awards and the National Research Foundation has acknowledged her as a researcher of high international standing.<br></p><p>Since 2017, Gobodo-Madikizela has been serving as research advisor and global academic at the Queen's University in Belfast. This position is affiliated to the Senator George Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice where she holds a World Leading Researcher Professorship. <br></p><p>Gobodo-Madikizela also held research fellowships at Harvard University's Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard Kennedy School's Carr Center for Human Rights Policy and the Claude Ake Visiting Chair, a collaboration between the Department of Peace and Conflict Research at the Uppsala University in Sweden and the Nordic Africa Institute. <br></p><p>Profs George Ellis, Ian Scott, Glenda Gray and Ms Okunike Monica Okundaye-Davis also received honorary doctorates at the same graduation ceremony in Grahamstown. SU awarded an honorary degree to Gray in 2017. <br></p><p><strong>Photo</strong>: Prof Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela receiving her honorary doctorate from Dr Adele Moodly, Registrar of Rhodes University.<br></p><ul><li>The University of Cape Town will award an honorary doctoral degree to Prof Jonathan Jansen, Distinguished Professor at SU's Faculty of Education, in December 2019. <br></li></ul><p><br></p>
Postgrad students dissect transformation issues thanks to Mellon fundinghttp://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=5085Postgrad students dissect transformation issues thanks to Mellon fundingLynne Rippenaar-Moses<p>​<span style="text-align:justify;">Twenty one postgraduate students from the Sociology and Social Anthropology Department in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences came together recently to participate in a Postgraduate Student Conference made possible thanks to funding received from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation through the </span><em style="text-align:justify;">Indexing Transformation </em><span style="text-align:justify;">project.</span><span style="text-align:justify;">​</span></p><p style="text-align:justify;">In 2016 <em>Indexing Transformation</em> received a five-year grant of R11,2 million from the Mellon Foundation to support mainly student scholarships and a seminar series.</p><p>At the time of the launch of <em>Indexing Transformation</em>, Prof Steven Robins, the project leader said: "<em>Indexing the Human</em> [a previous project that was funded by the Mellon Foundation from 2014 to 2015} succeeded in catalysing critical reflection on the history of the human sciences in Stellenbosch, and in South Africa more generally. Our current project emerges out of this on-going concern with the nature of knowledge production in the human sciences. It is also the outcome of the recognition that our university spaces and intellectual work require serious examination in relation to persistent racial inequalities and obstacles to democratic, inclusive intellectual practice, a recognition amplified by recent student protests across South Africa."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">The Postgraduate Student Conference forms part of the academic activities proposed as part of <em>Indexing Transformation</em>.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">According to Dr Bernard Dubbeld, a Senior Lecturer in the department and the conference convenor, grants from major international donors like the Mellon Foundation have helped the department to nurture academic capacities among the university's students. This grant has allowed us to focus specifically on issues that pertain to contemporary transformation and produced analytical insights and understandings into pressing problems and challenges in South Africa and elsewhere on the continent.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">“The aim of this conference was to offer a platform for Masters and doctoral students to present work in progress, to gain feedback from their peers and staff alike, and to give them experience in presenting in conference like scenarios," says Dubbeld. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">In addition, he noted, it was an opportunity to celebrate the quality and extent of student scholarship in the department. <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">The conference featured 21 student presentations, focusing on a range of themes delving into contemporary issues in South African society, the African continent and globally. This included papers focused on:<br></p><ul><li>the social and collective conditions of xenophobia;<br></li><li>witchcraft and witch hunts;</li><li>new mechanisms of public participation focusing on real-life examples such as the public briefings of shale gas development in the Karoo;</li><li>care, institutions and the dynamics of empowerment;</li><li>ethnographies of the new economy, focusing on, amongst others the intersection of formal and informal economies and computer gaming;</li><li>space, social transformation and citizenship focused on the reception of the SKA in Carnarvon and race, class and religion in Johannesburg; and</li><li>formations of resistance, which dissected issues around student activism, Open Stellenbosch and Afrikaans as a creolised language.</li></ul><p style="text-align:justify;">“Conferences of this nature provide our students with an opportunity to further strengthen their research and academic presentation skills and thus their CVs and to disseminate their research work to a wider audience. A further aim of this conference will be the development of the papers presented on the day into proper journal articles that can be published in peer-reviewed journals in future," says Mr Jan Vorster, Chair of the department. <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;"><em>Photo: Twenty-one Masters and PhD students recently participated in the </em><em>Postgraduate Student Conference made possible thanks to funding received from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. In the photo are the students </em><em>Stephanie Borchardt, Sallek Yaks Musa, Cassey Toi, Safiyya Goga, Crystal Farmer, Sune Butler, Menan van Heerden, Ashwin Phillips, Dianne Lombard, Anne Wiltshire, Natasha Solari, Michael Passetti, Jackie Roux, Vanessa Mpatlanyane, Robert Nyakuwa, Kristen Harmse, Claudia Janse van Rensburg, Saibu Mutaru, and Leza Soldaat. Amon Ashaba Mwiine and Neil Kramm also participated in the conference but where not present for the photo.​ (Lynne Rippenaar-Moses)</em></p>