Stellenbosch University
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SU scholar wins prestigious fellowship at Oxford
Author: Corporate Communications and Marketing (Hannelie Booyens)
Published: 14/11/2023

​A top academic at Stellenbosch University's (SU) Department of Modern Foreign Languages, Dr Gibson Ncube, has just heard he has been selected for a prestigious fellowship at the University of Oxford in England. The AfOx Visiting Fellowship Programme is designed to allow exceptional African researchers to build international networks and focus on a project of their choice in collaboration with Oxford-based scholars. 

AfOx is a cross-university platform which supports collaboration across all the departments at Oxford University. Ncube will be a visiting fellow at the Department of Medieval and Modern Languages at Oxford.

Ncube says he was shocked and excited when he received the news. “This fellowship is very competitive, and being chosen for this esteemed opportunity is truly a tremendous honour. I am deeply grateful for the chance to be affiliated with the University of Oxford for the upcoming year. Ten months will involve online engagements and from May to June 2024, I will be in residence at Oxford." 

He will be working closely with Dr Dorotheé Boulanger on a compelling interdisciplinary project entitled “Touching Worlds: Queer Ecologies in Contemporary African Literature and Cinema". Ncube says this project is particularly timely, given the current socio-political climate where certain African countries are increasingly targeting queer communities and the pressing issue of the disproportionate impact of the climate crisis on various regions of the continent. 

“Our collaborative endeavour seeks to underscore the urgency of prioritising the well-being of both human and non-human environments through the prism of literary and film aesthetics. By exploring the nexus of queer perspectives and ecological concerns, we aim to demonstrate how African writers and filmmakers are championing inclusive world visions. We will analyse how these creative voices leverage environmental struggles and metaphors of non-human animals to advocate for the reconstruction of community beyond the confines of heterosexism and anthropocentrism," Ncube explained.  

“I am eager to contribute to this vital discourse and look forward to the intellectual and cultural exchange that my time at Oxford will offer. This opportunity will undoubtedly enrich my research and enable me to make a meaningful contribution to the broader scholarly community."  

Ncube has received several research fellowships, including a Freestanding Postdoctoral Fellowship funded by the National Research Foundation, the African Humanities Program by the American Council for Learned Societies, the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study Iso Lomso Fellowship and a Virtual Fellowship at the Leeds University Centre for African Studies. He sits on several editorial boards and from 2020 to 2022, he served as co-convenor of the Queer African Studies Association. He was also the 2021 Mary Kingsley Zochonis Distinguished Lecturer of the Royal African Society and African Studies Association in the United Kingdom. Currently, Ncube is also a fellow of the Future Professors Programme offered by the Department of Higher Education and Training. 

Ncube is eager to make the most of the opportunity at Oxford to contribute to the scholarly discourse on queer ecocritical studies. Together with Boulanger, he plans to organise a series of virtual and in-person events that will facilitate meaningful dialogue and exchange among scholars. They will host an online seminar series with graduate students and early-career scholars from Southern Africa, providing a platform for them to showcase their groundbreaking work in this field.  

“During my time at Oxford University, I'm excited to coordinate a comprehensive, interdisciplinary workshop centred around similar themes, aiming to bring together scholars from various disciplines within Oxford and the UK. This workshop will receive support from diverse departments at Oxford as well as the Future Professors Programme, which is aimed at developing the qualities of academic excellence and leadership in university scholarship to contribute to the development of a future South African professoriate.  

“Furthermore, in collaboration with Dr Boulanger, I am thrilled to be involved in curating a journal special issue that will serve as a significant contribution to the discourse on African queer ecologies. This publication will delineate the contours and set a field-defining agenda for future research and discourse in this nascent area of study.  

“I am greatly looking forward to this journey of collaboration and learning at Oxford. I am committed to making a meaningful and lasting contribution to the advancement of scholarship in these critical areas," Ncube said.  

In congratulating Ncube's selection for the prestigious fellowship at Oxford, Prof Sibusiso Moyo, Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research, Innovation and Postgraduate Studies at SU said research excellence and scholarship combined with hard work and dedication always pays off. “We are elated to have Dr Ncube get this award. There are many who look up to him and it also attests to the fact that as SU we are seeing several of our scholars and researchers continue to make an impact both on the continent and globally. We wish him well and every success!"

Prof Catherine du Toit, chairperson of the Department of Modern Foreign Languages said all his colleagues are very proud of everything Ncube has achieved, both at SU and in his previous academic career. “He pursues every opportunity with great diligence and passion and never expects anything to come to him without effort. As a senior colleague, I have been watching over Gibson's trajectory, gradually introducing new challenges in terms of lectures, administration, and research opportunities. Seeing how he rises to each challenge, continually developing and getting stronger in all areas gives me great pleasure. I am confident that his stature as a researcher will soon attract hosts of postgraduate students who would like him to supervise their studies."