Nafeesah Allen graduated cum laude from Barnard College at Columbia University in 2006 and completed a Masters of International Affairs at Columbia University in 2009. There her specializations include Latin American languages and literature, as well as race and social policy; she was granted an Institute of Latin American Studies fellowship to pursue research on cultural and political representation of Brazil’s African Diaspora in the late 20th century. In 2013, she completed a postgraduate diploma in Folklore & Cultural Studies at Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) in New Delhi, India. She was recently nominated for IGNOU's Gold Medal for meritorious academic performance for her ethnographic thesis on women of the Indian Diaspora. She has published pieces in academic journals ('Scholar & Feminist Online' and 'The Journal of International Affairs') and literary publications (Hanging Loose Press' Shooting the Rat and Hanging Loose). She has held various U.S. based international and public policy fellowships. She is a native of Newark, New Jersey, USA, and currently lives in Maputo, Mozambique.
Doctoral Research Title: Becoming Mozambican: National Identity development among the Indian & Pakistani Diaspora in Maputo in the late 20th century.
This study will focus on people of Indian and Pakistani origin now living in Mozambique. While the paper will generally highlight the uniqueness of this migration route, it will touch on wider trends of global south-south migration, African and Asian linkages, and Portuguese colonial history. The paper will investigate how Mozambican national identity among migrants of Indian & Pakistani origin was shaped by three major events: 1) the partition of India and Pakistan in 1947, 2) Mozambican independence from Portugal in 1975 and 3) the end of the Mozambican civil war in 1992.
Melanie Bisnauth is PhD student at the University of Witwatersrand, South Africa in the School of Public Health in collaboration with ACMS. She served previously as a Research Coordinator in the Department of Physical Therapy at the University of Toronto and CIHRRC Coordinator. Her current research works towards strengthening the response for both national and non-national women in access to HIV PMTCT programming and services in South Africa. Melanie is very passionate in providing a platform for marginalized women to voice their experiences about the barriers they face when accessing HIV/AIDS health care services. She has demonstrated strong interest in strategic intervention for community based and patient centered care approaches in the HIV/AIDS field. Melanie has worked with Rahima Moosa Mother and Child Hospital in Johannesburg, South Africa where she monitored and evaluated WHOs guidelines on the use of antiretrovirals for treatment and prevention of HIV and its impact on PMTCT programming and services. Her research has allowed her to develop and execute strategic ways to create sustainable system-level change between healthcare professionals and patients. In addition, Melanie has worked in Australia as a Communications and Corporate Services Officer where she developed funding strategies to invest in healthcare infrastructures which addressed stigma and supported outreach care amongst Indigenous peoples experiencing mental health and substance use issues. Most recently, Melanie has collaborated with the AIDS Committee of Toronto in data analysis and developing a policy toolkit for the Women's HIV/AIDS Initiative executed across the province of Ontario.
Caitlin Blaser's research tries to understand how local government responds to social and demographic changes. Her professional background is in the field of organisational development and monitoring and evalaution, and she's excited about understanding how change in complex social systems is driven and measured. Her MA research looked at how decentralisation in Mali changed relationships between residents and local government.
Doctoral Research: Her current PhD research is exploring how municipal authorities in five South African communities are responding to migration. Themes include how adminsitration facilitates or udnermines participation, how decentralised planning takes place in a context of migration, and what role municipal authorities play in building social cohesion.
Erma is a PhD candidate in Anthropology co-supervised by ACMS and a social researcher. In the latter role, she collaborated in several studies run by the African Centre for Migration and Society (ACMS) and the Wits School of Architecture and Planning, among others. Her area of focus to date has been around the life of migrants and the issues that affect them. Currently, her interest lies in medical anthropology where she observes health issues, particularly the sale of pharmaceuticals in formal and informal spaces. Erma is inspired by the idea of empowerment of African society through knowledge production.
Vanya Gastrow is a Doctoral Candidate at the ACMS. She holds a BA LLB Mphil (private law) from the University of Cape Town, and is an admitted attorney. Vanya’s main research interest is in law and society, with particular focus on the situation of foreign migrants.
Vanya first joined the ACMS in 2010 as a Visiting Researcher tasked with exploring the ability of migrant traders to access justice institutions when they were victims of crime. She went on to study the formal and informal regulation of migrant informal traders in Cape Town, and the contribution of migrant traders to local economies. Much of this research exposure informs her current doctoral studies.
Vanya’s PhD thesis examines the relationship between law, politics and belonging through a case study of the formal and informal governance of Somali migrant traders in Cape Town.
Thea de Gruchy
Thea de Gruchy is a researcher and doctoral candidate at the African Centre for Migration and Society (ACMS), University of the Witwatersrand, where she has been since starting her MA in 2013.
Her PhD and current research, which is supervised by Jo Vearey, funded by the Wellcome Trust and part of the Migration and Health Project (maHp) at ACMS, centres on questions of policy process and asks how policy is made and influenced in South Africa. In 2015 and the beginning of 2016, Thea worked with Ingrid Palmary to answer some of these questions and inform a conceptual framework on how policy is made in South Africa using the Trafficking in Persons Act of 2013 as a case study. Her doctoral work will be using a case study of health and occupational safety policy in the South African agricultural sector to elaborate on and develop this framework.
Thea’s MA, which was funded by the National Research Foundation (NRF), focused on the immigration industry and the relationship between the state, immigration intermediaries, and migrants. Part of this research explored the increasing precarity experienced by immigrants in South Africa as a result of changing and increasingly stringent immigration policy and regulations. Having received a Faculty of Humanities Ad Hoc Grant from the University of the Witwatersrand for 2016 to follow on with some of this research and as part of the Security at the Margins (SeaM) project – a collaborative project between ACMS and the Centre for African Studies at the Univeristy of Edinburgh – she continues to be interested in the relationship between policy, specifically policy framed in terms of security, and the precarity of marginalised and vulnerable groups.
Thea currently co-ordinates the PhD Work in Progress seminars that are held on a montly basis at ACMS.
Abdu Hikam got his BA (Majoring in Economics, Geography and Sociology) from the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg and did his Honours in Demography and Population Studies at the same institution. He also obtained MA in Development Studies from Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in Port Elizabeth. Before joining ACMS, Abdu worked with various NGOs in Ethiopia. He managed or coordinated both emergency and development projects in Ethiopia including projects funded by the UNOCHA, USAID and the World Bank. Abdu was the coordinator of a World Bank funded project called Ethiopia’s Social Accountability Programme (ESAP 2) for a consortium of four local NGOs working in three different regions of Ethiopia. Abdu’s research interest lies in the immigrant entrepreneurs and their involvement in the South African township informal economy and ways in which they contribute to this sector.
Doctoral Research Title: The contribution of African immigrant's entrepreneurs to the South African township informal economy: The case of Somalis in the Tembisa and Mamelodi Townships of Gauteng Province.
Prisca is a Kenyan national, with research experience on forced migration issues, transitional justice and Monitoring and Evaluation in Eastern Africa and the Great Lakes. She has published widely on these issues and conducted research for, among others, the International Confrence on the Great Lakes Region and the Brookings Institution-London School of Economics Project on Internal Displacement. Prisca is now a lecturer at the Institute of Diplomacy and International Studies, University of Nairobi
Doctoral Research Title: Autochthony, Citizenship and Solutions to Internal Displacement in Kenya.
The study explores how the politics of belonging protracts displacement and how humanitarian assistance to displaced 'outsiders' reproduces narratives of exclusion in contested territories. The study links two areas of academic inquiry; democratisation and humanitarianism.
Dostin Lakika is from the DRC. He completed his Development studies undergraduate degree at the “Facultés Catholiques de Kinshasa” (now the Catholic University of Congo) and worked as a trainer in the public sector before moving to South Africa in 2007. He joined the African Centre for Migration and Society (ACMS), at Wits University in 2010 and obtained a Master’s Degree in Forced Migration Studies in 2011. For his MA study, Dostin looked at how Congolese forced migrants, who were victims of violence, perceived illness and treatment in their new environment in Johannesburg. As part of this research Dostin participated in formulating a research project at ACMS on upholding the psychosocial rights of forced migrants and publishing a report entitled “Exploring psychosocial and health rights of forced migrants in Johannesburg”. Dostin is also interested in issues of food, health, illness and refugees in South Africa, for example the way refugees perceive South African food and how they consider foods from “home” as remedies to combat diseases affecting their lives in South Africa. Currently working at the French Institute of South Africa (IFAS), a branch of the Embassy of France located in Johannesburg, he is also doing his doctoral studies through ACMS.
Doctoral Research Title: No escape from the past: Exploring the memories of violence among the DR Congolese former combatants
This PhD Research engages with studies on memory and violence, by examining the role of remembering the war among ex-Congolese combatants living in Johannesburg. It is particularly looking at the functions of the violent memories in their lives, their feelings about their past violent experiences as well as the way they see themselves today in migration setting.
Brenda Pinky Mahlangu
Brenda Pinky Mahhlangu is a Senior Scientist and has a Masters in Development Planning. She is employed by the Medical Research Council and currently working on a PhD which is a policy analysis study that explores the multi-sectorial and multi-level response to HIV and AIDS in South Africa. Her research interests are in public health, health governance, and integrated development planning, urban HIV and policy analysis. Her current work involves integration of equity considerations such as gender, disability and HIV in public policy, urban health research on HIV and AIDS, intersectoral action on health and development issues and social determinants of health.
Doctoral Research Title: Exploring the effectiveness of a multisectoral and multilevel response to HIV and AIDS: implications for implementation of National Strategic Plan on HIV and AIDS in South Africa.
Pinky's doctoral research is in the Wits School of Public Health that involves co-supervision with Dr Jo Vearey of ACMS.
Tackson Makandwa is a Zimbabwean national. After graduating with his first degree in Psychology from the University of Zimbabwe in 2003, he worked as a Processing Officer with the Ministry of Home Affairs under the Registrar General’s department in Zimbabwe and as an Assistant Lecturer at the Great Zimbabwe University (GZU). He joined Wits in 2012 when he enrolled in Honours in Development Studies. The following year, he joined ACMS’ MA programme. While working on his PhD, Tackson is also attached to the Academic Development Unit where he tutors the Critical Thinking Course for the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment. His interests are in migration and health, gender and urban health, maternal and reproductive health, HIV and AIDS, social determinants of health, Human rights and Social justice issues.
Doctoral Research Title: Migration, gender and access to health: exploring maternal healthcare experiences among migrant Zimbabwean women in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Emmanuel is currently a lecturer in Criminal Justice at Monash South Africa, and teaches on Criminology units as well as on Child Justice, SA's criminal justice system (police, courts and correctional services), organised crime, money laundering, counter-terrorism and victimology. His undergraduate studies focused on southern African history (particularly liberation movements) and aspects of law and politics. He has worked in various sectors including the Institute for Security Studies in Cape Town as an intern and consultant; Mediation Consultant for the Western Cape Provincial Government; Varsity College lecturer
Doctoral Research Title: The Law versus common practices: A critical analysis of parole laws and practices for foreign nationals in South Africa
Dorcas is a Research Psychologist, who graduated from Wits University. She is interested in how people become people, with particular interest in people in particular spaces. She has extensive experience in research support, including transcribing, coding, analysis and editing.
Doctoral Research Title: Adolescents with cancer and how they negotiate identity through embodied experiences.
Goitseone is an M.A graduate in the field of Demography and Population studies. Her main research interests are within Labour Migration, Public Health and Research Methodologies.
Doctoral Research: The Governance of Health in the Informal labour sector
Janet Munakamwe graduated from the Wits Global Labour University Programme (GLU) where she studied for MA Industrial Sociology/ MA Labour Policies and Globalisation (LPG 1) in 2007 through Society, Work and Development Institute (SWOP). She was a recipient of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) scholarship for trade unions. She has published articles in the South African Labour Bulletin and research reports through National Labour and Economic Development Institute (NALEDI) and COSATU. She is also a global researcher for GLU-Alumni Research Network and has contributed to a peer reviewed book chapter on gender. In Zimbabwe, Janet served as national board member for Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ), an affiliate of Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) and has conducted numerous labour –related research projects. Janet is the founder of African Diaspora Workers Network. In addition, she also serves on various NGO Boards.
Doctoral Research Title: Emerging political subjectivities in a post migrant labour regime: Mobilisation, participation and representation of foreign workers in South Africa (1980-2013).
Dudu obtained her first degree in Environmental Science & Health from NUST, Zimbabwe in 2004. She has worked in rural development in Zimbabwe and with Sonke Gender Justice Network in Johannesburg South Africa on Migrants' Health & Rights issues prior to joining ACMS. She is currently pursuing her PHD with ACMS after completing her MA with the centre in 2010.
Doctoral Research Title: Gender, Generational Difference and Memory: An exploration of art on Gukurahundi in Johannesburg, South Africa
Elsa Oliveira completed her M.A in Forced Migration Studies at the African Centre for Migration & Society (ACMS) in 2011. Her research employed a participatory photography project with migrant women living in inner-city Johannesburg and explored if/how their move to the City impacted self (re)presentation. Since completing her MA she has worked as a Visiting Researcher at the Centre and has coordinated several arts-based research projects with sex workers and LGBTIQ migrants and refugees. Elsa’s work has contributed significantly to the MoVE (method.visual.explore) Project at ACMS- a project that aims to explore the lived experiences of migrants in Southern African by integrating social action with research. Elsa is interested in the areas of health, migration, sexuality and arts-based research methodologies.
Jogini Packery is a registered counselling psychologist who is focused on developing South African perspectives on identity development. She has completed her Masters in Community-based Counselling Psychology (Wits) and is currently exploring the realm of sexualised identities in South African. Jogini is currently engaged in her PhD studies and is co-supervised by Prof. Ingrid Palmary (ACMS) and Dr Peace Kiguwa (Psychology department - Wits).
Jogini's passions surround working with youth in South Africa and devising techniques for youth empowerment. She believes that education is the key to empowerment and change, and hopes to the empower young men and women with which she encounters in her employment and community capacities. Jogini is currently working on a ten year old community development programme within the community of Actonville, in Benoni. This project allows her to reach out to youth and provide psycho-social and emotional support where it is needed most.
Doctoral Research Title: Sexualised identities: Deconstructing the common perceptions of sugar babies and transactional sexual relationships (TSRs) in the Metropolis of Johannesburg.
Greta Schuler is a PhD candidate in creative writing and a doctoral fellow at the African Centre for Migration and Society (ACMS). Her dissertation focuses on the lives of migrant sex workers in Johannesburg. With ACMS’s MoVE project, Greta is facilitating creative writing workshops with sex workers and running the Gauteng sex worker newsletter, Izwi Lethu: Our Voice. Greta’s short stories and essays have appeared in various literary journals, including Creative Nonfiction, the Crab Orchard Review, and PANK (online). She holds an MA in Forced Migration from the University of the Witwatersrand and an MFA in Creative Writing from American University, Washington, DC.
Theresa Sommers in a PhD candidate in Global Governance and Human Security, with a focus on Global Health, at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. She earned a BA in International Relations from Wellesley College in 2004 and MPH in International Health from Boston University in 2007. She has worked on transnational public health issues with various institutions including the WHO, the Thai Health Promotion Foundation in Bangkok, and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Her research interests include the intersection of health and migration in Southern Africa, youth migration, adolescent and child health, intimate partner violence, gender, global health governance, and the One Health movement.
Dissertation Title: Experiencing Migration: Understanding the Health and Well Being of Youth Migrants in Johannesburg, South Africa
Joyce is a Zimbabwean national, temporarily resident in Botswana. She graduated with an Honours in Sociology from the University of Zimbabwe and an MA in Social Development from Wits University. She has previously worked in Zimbabwe as an HR HOD and is urrently enrolled for the PhD programme with ACMS on a full-time basis from January 2016.
Doctoral Research Title: "Gaborone is our lifeline" - Breaking border controls in order to survive: A case study on the migration experiences of undocumented Zimbabwean female migrants and their children.
Melekias Zulu has an academic background in philosophy and theology. In 2010, he did his Master's with the Forced Migration Studies Programme (the earlier name of ACMS). Melekias has been an Assistant Researcher on the Religion and Migration Initiative at ACMS since 2013.