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Shamil Jeppie
Director & Associate Professor History
Work Phone: +2721 650 4642 Website: Download Recent Publications List

Shamil Jeppie is an associate professor in the Department of Historical Studies at the University of Cape Town. He was educated at the universities of the Western Cape, Cape Town and Princeton. A recipient of a Fulbright Scholarship, he also held a Chevening Scholarship while at Oxford University and has been a fellow of the Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research.He is author of Language, Identity, Modernity (2007) and also has numerous publications to his name, and is editor of the journal History in Africa, The Struggle for District Six (1990), Towards New Histories for South Africa (2004) and The Meanings of Timbuktu (2008).

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Deborah Posel
Professor of Sociology
Work Phone: +27 21 650 3269 Website: Download Publications List

Deborah Posel is a professor of sociology at the University of Cape Town, an appointment that coincided with her taking up the position as HUMA’s founding director in January 2010. Prior to that she spent many years at the University of Witwatersrand as a professor of sociology and director of the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research (WISER), which she founded in 2000. She has been educated at the University of Witwatersrand and Nuffield College, Oxford, where she obtained her DPhil and was awarded the Gwilym Gibbon Prize Research Fellowship. She has been a visiting scholar at Harvard University, and a visiting professor at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) in Paris. She is a member of the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) and a fellow at the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study (STIAS). She has written and published widely on aspects of South African politics and society during and beyond the apartheid years – including The Making of Apartheid (1991); Apartheid’s Genesis (1994) with Phil Bonner and Peter Delius; and Commissioning the Past: Understanding South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (2002) with Graeme Simpson.


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Zethu Matebeni
Senior Researcher
Work Phone: +27 21 650 3416 Website: Download Publications List

Zethu Matebeni is the convenor of the Queer in Africa series and lectures in the Sociology Department. She is the African Humanities Program Fellow and senior researcher at the University of Cape Town whose intellectual contribution primarily focuses on the development of African Queer Theory in South Africa. zethu has published numerous books and journal articles including, “Queer in Africa: LGBTQI identities, citizenship, and activism”, 2018 (with Surya Monro and Vasu Reddy); and “Reclaiming Afrikan: queer perspectives on sexual and gender identities” (2014) which focuses on art activism and queer theory-making.

Categories: Past Staff, People
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Ilana van Wyk
Senior Researcher HUMA
Work Phone: +27 (0)21 650 5920 Website: Download Publications List

Ilana van Wyk is an anthropologist. She studied at the University of Pretoria, at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London and at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). She completed her PhD at SOAS in 2007 and was a teaching- and postdoctoral fellow at the LSE. Ilana joined HUMA in 2011 after a short stint as a National Research Foundation postdoctoral fellow at the University of Cape Town.  She has won various awards and research grants, among them the Royal Anthropological Institution’s Satusoma award, a Vice-Chancellor’s award from UCT, a Wennergren research grant and a grant from the British Economic and Social Research council. Her current research focuses on precolonial currency exchange and financial instruments at the Cape of Good Hope. She has also worked on a 14 month project on the social economics of spectacular matric balls on the Cape Flats. Her previous research looked at the intersections between religion and money; she worked on new forms of Christianity, in particular prosperity gospel and Pentecostal Charismatic Churches, and on the South African Lottery. The former interest culminated in the publication of a monograph called The Universal Church of the Kingdom of God in South Africa: A church of strangers (Cambridge Press 2014) while she’s currently in the process of writing a book on the Lottery.

Categories: Current, Past Staff, People, Staff
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Ms Rifqah Kahn
Administrative Assistant
Work Phone: +27 21 650 5445

Rifqah Kahn joined the team in February 2012 as administrative assistant and brings much academic and professional experience to the project. She completed her Bachelors in Social Science at UCT majoring in Psychology, Sociology and Public Administration. She graduated from the University of Stellenbosch with a Masters in Social Anthropology with a focus on organisations and public cultures. Her experience spans the education, development and media sectors.

Categories: Past Staff, People
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B Camminga
PhD Student Doctoral Student
Work Phone: +27 21 650 5445

B Camminga (*they) completed their undergraduate and honours degrees at Rhodes University in 2008 majoring in History and Politics. Following this they received a Chevening Scholarship to undertake a Masters at the Centre for Interdisciplinary Gender Studies (CIGS), University of Leeds. Bianca’s research interests include: gender, sexuality, identity and ‘queer’ culture on a local, national and global scale. They are currently undertaking a PhD in Sociology at UCT entitled Bodies over Borders and Borders over Bodies: the Gender Refugee and the Imagined South Africa, supervised by Deborah Posel, Zethu Matebeni and Susan Levine.

Their current research focuses on knowledge production and concepts of the everyday in relation to the needs of transgender people living in South Africa. In particular they are interested in how transgender identity functions in South Africa and how people from the continent access the country in order to find a perceived safety in their identity within the countries borders. B is interested in the collective battle for a language of self-description, for words that empower and for an identification that is not predicated on the existence of any other group, identity or institution. This has very clear repercussions on concepts of what it means to be gendered and sexed in South Africa in relation to the available rights and protections. They hope that this work will contribute to a broader much needed focus on practices and experiences of gender diversity.

B’s publications so far

Camminga, B. (2015). Magic Man: Of Rainbows and Monsters. In Seismographic Sounds Visions of a New World. Bern: Norient Books, 374-379.

Camminga, B. (2015). Queer and Of Here. In Seismographic Sounds Visions of a New World. Bern: Norient Books, 387-391.

Camminga, B. & Vincent, L. (2009) Putting the ‘T’ into South African Human Rights: Transsexuality in the Post-Apartheid Order. Sexualities, 12 (6): 678-700.




Categories: People
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Justin Brown
PhD Student Doctoral Students
Home Phone: +27 21 650 5445

Justin Brown was born in Cape Town and grew up in Heathfield in the southern suburbs. He completed his schooling at South Peninsula High School in Diep River before coming to UCT where he studied English Literature and History. After spending about two years in the United Kingdom, Justin returned to UCT to complete his PGCE. He then worked for several years as an English language teacher in Cape Town. While working as a teacher, he completed undergraduate modules in Linguistics through Unisa. He then returned to UCT once again and received his BA (Honours) in Linguistics in 2009 and his MA in Linguistics in 2011, both with distinction. While a postgraduate student in Linguistics, he received the Andrew Mellon postgraduate scholarship and worked closely with Rajend Mesthrie and Ana Deumert who are both internationally acclaimed sociolinguists.

Justin’s research interests include Linguistic Anthropology, Sociolinguistics, Sociolinguistic Theory and language in education; as well as general linguistic theory and the philosophy of language. Justin’s PhD investigates the relationship between language, history and identity in South Africa focusing on the case study of ‘Khoisan’ language activism in the Western Cape today. It is being supervised jointly by Ana Deumert (linguistics) and Shamil Jeppie (HUMA). When not immersed in Linguistics, Justin enjoys reading, walking in the forests of Cape Town, listening to classical music, watching documentary films and eating his mother’s food.

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Lindy-Lee Prince
PhD Student Doctoral Student

Lindy-Lee Prince completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Stellenbosch in 2008, majoring in Social Anthropology and Mandarin. In 2009 she moved to Taiyuan, in Shanxi Province, China, to teach English at Taiyuan University of Technology. The following year she returned to the University of Stellenbosch to continue her post-graduate studies in Social Anthropology. In 2013 she completed and received her Masters degree, and produced a thesis titled: “Above Gender – Doing Drag, Destabilising Dominance, Performing Authentically and Defying the Norms of Gender through Performance in Cape Town”.

In 2014, she will commence her PhD studies at the University of Cape Town in collaboration with the Department of Social Anthropology and Huma, in the theme, “circuits of consumption”. The working title of her research project is “Consuming the Performing Body: The Role of Consumption in the Presentation of the Sexed/Gendered Self”.  Her proposed research project will make an enquiry into the role of consumerism and the consumption of goods, such as clothing, make-up, hairstyles, etc. in the creation of a visible, tangible social identity that is related to the expression of a gendered self. In particular, the research project will focus on the performance of gender in relation to staged performance, and consider questions relating to the tangible “things” that make up the ways in which individuals describe, perform, and present ideas of masculinity and femininity, in order to explore questions relating to the ways in which people express what they consider to be “manliness” or “womanliness”, by means of dress and physicality. Her research will make an enquiry into the appropriation and exchange of gendered and sexed identification markers that provide a reading and understanding (and occasionally a mis-reading, and mis-understanding) of gender presentation and performance.

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Nokwanda Khumalo
PhD Student Doctoral Student

Nokwanda’s thesis title is “Engaging with patients’ trauma narratives: an exploration of institutional responses to psychological trauma in a rural obstetrics and gyneacology hospital” with the Psychology Department

Supervisors: Sally Swartz, Deborah Posel and Nokuthula Shabalala

Project summary:

Sexual violence, endemic in South Africa and highly prevalent among women attending public obstetric and gyneacology clinics, is often responded to in gendered ways that tend to silence survivors. Literature suggests that the experience of trauma is shaped by contextual factors such as race, gender and socio-economic status that inform social understanding which impact on how survivors continuously (co) create the meanings of their experiences. Literature also indicates that trauma has an impact on both survivors and those who bear witness to it, and that the process of bearing witness is a complex one that involves confronting human vulnerability, and inevitably draws one into the conflict between the victim and perpetrator in ways that make it difficult to remain neutral. Public health institutions, like other organizations, are subject to dynamics that are affected by a number of contextual and other factors, including the nature of the work undertaken in them. Little is known about the delivery of mental health care in rural public hospitals.

This project explores institutional responses to the ‘intimate’ experiences of women, within a rural hospital that serves as a tertiary referral centre for obstetrics and gyneacology problems in Northern KwaZulu Natal. The medical problems that the women present with are particularly gendered, occur in a context of poverty, high rates of gender based violence and HIV/AIDS, and are mediated by women’s socio-economic positioning. Using a mixed methods approach drawing on in-depth interviews, ethnographic observations and descriptive statistical data, this study seeks to describe how psychological trauma is responded to in a rural obstetrics and gyneacology hospital, and to understand why certain response patterns emerge, as well as explore the effects these patterns may have on the practice of health care and patients’ experiences.



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Nkululeko Mabandla
PhD Student Doctoral Student

Returning to South Africa after political exile, Nkululeko Mabandla founded the People’s Learning Theatre Organization and worked as a consultant in the areas of management of change and organisational development. Nkululeko has also worked in the Film and TV industry as an actor, director and script writer.  In 2010, he went back to further his education which had been cut short by his anti-apartheid activism and completed an MA, with distinction, at UCT’s Sociology Department in 2012. Nkululeko’s thesis was entered into an international competition, sponsored by Leiden University’s (Netherlands) African Studies Centre (ASC-Leiden), and won the Afrika Thesis Award 2012, for the best thesis based on original empirical research on Sub Saharan Africa. His thesis, has since been published in book form in 2013.

Nkululeko’s research interests include the fields of political economy, language and history. His current research is on globalization and the transformation of rural towns in South Africa. This is an ethnographic study which focuses on  the nodes of interaction between Chinese entrepreneurs and the local population. The doctoral project is supervised by Lungisile Ntsebeza (Centre for African Studies) and Deborah Posel (HUMA), and falls under HUMA’s flagship research theme: Circuits of Consumption.

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Simbarashe Gukurume
PhD Student Doctoral Student

Simbarashe graduated with a BSc hons degree in Sociology and an MSc degree in Sociology and Social Anthropology both from the University of Zimbabwe in 2008 and 2010 respectively. Simbarashe received several awards for being the best student in both his undergraduate and postgraduate studies at the University of Zimbabwe. As a postgraduate student, he worked as a graduate teaching assistant in the department of Sociology at the University of Zimbabwe from 2008 to 2010.From there, he worked as a lecturer at Great Zimbabwe University in the department of Sociology and Social Anthropology 2010 to 2014.He was also doubling as the subject coordinator in Social Anthropology. His current research interests focus more broadly on consumerism, violence, prosperity gospel, migration, gender, sexuality and livelihoods. Simbarashe has written and published on Zimbabwe’s socio – economic, political and humanitarian crisis.

Simbarashe is currently a PhD candidate in Sociology at UCT.His Doctoral research focuses on prosperity gospel and conspicuous consumption and the intersections with identity politics within charismatic churches. The research is being supervised by Deborah Posel and Illana Van Wyk.

Simbarashe’s publications so far

Simbarashe Gukurume (2015): Livelihood resilience in a hyperinflationary environment: experiences of people engaging in money-burning (kubhena mari) transactions in Harare, Zimbabwe, Social Dynamics: A journal of African studies, DOI:10.1080/02533952.2015.1069492
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John Spiropoulos
Affiliated PhD student Sociology

Thesis title: A house in the city – debt and the moral economy of households in Khayelitsha, Cape Town.
Supervisor/s: Deborah Posel and Jeremy Seekings
Summary of the Project: An examination of the meaning of money, debt and the value placed by poor households on the house, on objects of consumption and on relationships.

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Susana Molins Lliteras
Researcher and Postdoctoral fellow Tombouctou Manuscript Project & Historical Studies

Susana Molins Lliteras is a Post-Doctoral Fellow in the Historical Studies Department at the University of Cape Town (UCT). She holds a PhD in Historical Studies from the same institution, for a dissertation entitled ³ ŒAfrica starts in the Pyrenees:¹ The Fondo Kati, between al-Andalus and Timbuktu,² which presents a biography the Fondo Kati archive, a private family manuscript collection from Timbuktu and its links with al-Andalus. She obtained an MPhil in African Studies from UCT, for research on the West African Tijaniyya tariqa¹s presence in Cape Town.  In 2005 she joined the Tombouctou Manuscripts Project as a researcher, ( and has been an integral part of the project’s events and output since that time.  She has published on themes of manuscript culture, archive and Sufism.



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Mauro Nobili
Postdoc Department of Religious Studies & TomboUCTou Manuscript Project @Huma
Home Phone: +27 21 650 5445 Website: Publications List
Mauro Nobili is a specialist in West African history and Arabic manuscripts. He is a post-doctoral fellow affiliated to HUMA within the Tombouctou Manuscripts Project as well as to the Department of Religious Studies. His current research focuses on the Arabic script styles displayed by West African manuscripts.
He received his Ph.D. in “African Studies” at the University of Napoli «L’Orientale» in 2008. Mauro has worked for  for the Series Catalogorum, an Italian-French project of cataloguing Islamic manuscripts that involves the Instituto per L’Oriente «C.A. Nallino» (Roma) and the CNRS – Monde Iranien et Indien (Paris), for the Centre for the Study of Manuscript Cultures of the University of Hamburg. He is currently part of the team for the section “Islam: Sub-Saharan Africa” of the Encyclopedia of Manuscript Cultures in Asia and Africa (de Gruyter – Berlin), co-editor of the Series “‘Futūḥ al-buldān’. Sources for the Study of Islamic Societies/Fonti per lo studio delle società islamiche” (Aracne – Roma) and member of in the research project “Production and transmission of the Qur’anic text in the Western Islamic world (12th-16th centuries)” (FFI2012-32294).
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