Former Fellows and Associates

Maxima Missodey


Maxima Missodey had her tertiary education at Ghana’s premier University, the University of Ghana and has been with the Department of Sociology since her undergraduate studies. Her research interests include pharmaceutical anthropology, medical sociology and health research

She recently graduated from the University of Ghana with a PhD in Sociology. Her thesis, titled, “Herbal Medicines: Commodities in the Pharmaceuticalisation of Health in Ghana”- is an anthropological study that explored the social life of herbal medicines from production, distribution through consumption and regulation. This study was part of a larger multi-country project aimed at studying the realities surrounding the global pharmaceutical industry.

Prior to this post-doctoral fellowship, she had the opportunity to hone her qualitative research skill through academic and consultancy research work in the fields of health and education

Blessings Kaunda


Blessings N. Kaunda, a medical anthropologist and postdoctoral fellow working on Re-imagining Reproduction is consistent with her passion and dedication to work on children, adolescents and young people’s health and wellbeing. Currently, she explores (re) imaginings of reproduction and kinship in relation to technologies (which broadly includes pharmaceuticals, devices, practices and digital applications, and clinical and diagnostic procedures) for young people aged 15-24 in sub-Saharan Africa. The focus is on how young people use or not the technologies and their experiences delaying or preparing or not to conceive, birth and raise a child as part of re-imagining reproduction among young people.

Blessings has over ten years of qualitative research experience. She has a background in sociology (Unima), medical anthropology (UvA) and public and population health (Wits). Her niche focuses on applying social science disciplines (sociology, medical anthropology, medical humanities, gender lenses) and public health, health systems strengthening, operational research and implementation science frameworks to provide a richer understanding of research, analytic approaches and programmatic interventions.   She continues to grow her experience in providing research leadership, publications, implementing research studies, data management and analysis and facilitating knowledge translation.

Deirdre Blackie

Deirdre (Dee) Blackie is a child protection researcher and community worker in Johannesburg South Africa.  Following a 15-year career in business consulting and change management, she started working with communities concerned with child protection, child abandonment and adoption in 2010.

She facilitated the creation of a National Adoption Coalition for South Africa in 2011, and since then her primary focus has been on creating awareness and engaging with communities and lobbying the government around child protection challenges. 

Her master’s research explored the lived experience of child abandonment and adoption in South Africa, and her PhD research has taken her into the field of disability, with a specific focus on atypical children and critical autism studies.

Dee launched Courage in 2015, a community engagement programme aimed at assisting child protection officers and communities to address the challenges they are experiencing every day. Over the past several years she has used this programme and toolkit to empower meaningful change in the care and protection of our children in communities around the world.

Thandeka Dlamini


Thandeka is a medical anthropologist with a PHD in critical global health from the University of Amsterdam. She is an ethnographic fanatic, interested in studying the global-local nexus, eliciting how decisions, information and knowledge travel across space and time (the translation process), the imprints they leave on society at large and on individuals and how change is navigated, negotiated, challenged or accepted in everyday lives.  She loves studying societies; the transformation process i.e., changes, shifts and emerging trends in societies; exploring new narratives, and how they emerge and challenge established repertoires.  Her main quest is to promote novel traditional methodologies of study and translate them into scientific knowledge.

Marion Chirwa Kajombo


Marion is a sociolinguist with a PhD in General Linguistics from Stellenbosch University, who currently works as a lecturer at the Malawi University of Science and Technology. As an upcoming researcher, her
interest in the inter-relationships between language and culture and her love of children and women’s affairs inspired her linguistic studies on taboo topic discussions in gynaecological consultations in Malawi. She believes that African medical settings present interactional volatile situations where science and culture co-exist, and negotiations are inevitable.

As a researcher, her main objective is to contribute to the understanding of the socio-cultural insights and expectations that may influence medical goals, preferences and choices of individuals and the larger Malawian society. Thus, she uses Interactional Sociolinguistics, Situated Discourse Analysis (SDA) and her English and Chichewa translation skills in her studies. In brief, Marion’s interest is the language used in medicine and how it relates to women’s and children’s health in a non-western culture, since medical training is based on western culture and language use.

Josiah Taru

South Africa

Josiah Taru is a social anthropologist whose work focuses on the anthropology of Christianity broadly and on Pentecostal-Charismatic Christianity in particular. His previous research interrogates the complex relations between a local Pentecostal-Charismatic movement and the post-colonial Zimbabwean state, showing subtle ways in which, the Pentecostal movement is an infrastructural actor that plugs cracks and gaps evident in Zimbabwe’s social welfare system.

For the Re-imagining Reproduction project, Josiah is working on a project titled Religion, Reproductive Technologies and the making of babies among Zimbabwean migrants in South Africa that explores the role of religion amongst Zimbabwean migrant families longing for babies and children in Kempton Park, South Africa. Furthermore, the project investigates how religion is used as a resource in the caring for babies and children.

Josiah has published nine peer-reviewed journal articles and three book chapters. Josiah has held ZUKOnnect research fellowship at the University of Konstanz, and a visiting scholar fellowship at KU Leuven