Research Team

Photo By Masimba Sasa

Nolwazi Mkhwanazi

Principal Investigator

Nolwazi Mkhwanazi is a Professor of Anthropology at the University of the Pretoria. She is based at the Centre for the Advancement of Scholarship (CAS). She is one of the founders of the Medical and Health Humanities Africa (MHHA) network. In her research, Nolwazi has been working with young people regarding issues of sexuality, sex education and sexual health intervention. In this work, her fieldwork sites span across Southern Africa including Botswana and Eswatini. She has collaborated with people in a range of disciplines including fine art, biomedical sciences, public health, demography and other social science disciplines. These collaborative projects include partners based in the global South, mainly in Ghana, Mozambique, Malawi, Kenya, Chile and India.

Deevia Bhana

Co-Investigator

Deevia Bhana is the DSI/NRF South African Research Chair in Gender and Childhood Sexuality at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Her research focuses on building an interdisciplinary understanding of sexuality and gender across the young life course drawing from feminist, queer, critical masculinity studies and new feminist materialism. Her work on young sexualities, especially, but not only girls, places emphasis on the mechanisms through which gender inequalities are experienced and challenged in a variety of educational settings and within peer and relationship dynamics. She brings these insights to a wide range of questions that address the early experience of sexualities, sexual innocence, the intersection of young sexualities with age, race, class and social media, sexual health and education with special emphasis given to sexual violations and schooling.

In addressing an area of high significance, Deevia Bhana’s research brings a broad theoretical social science lens to the study of gender and childhood sexuality and contributes to this global field through her empirical material, theoretical reflection and development, and her positionality in South Africa.

Deevia Bhana is actively involved in supervising a large cohort of students and has a significant impact on building the research profile of the next generation of scholars in the field of gender and childhood sexualities. Deevia Bhana is an NRF B1-rated researcher.

Postdoctoral Research Fellows

Saibu Profile

Saibu Mutaru

Ghana

I am a Ghanaian social anthropologist. I teach anthropology at the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Cape Coast, Ghana. I hold a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from the University of Ghana, Legon, and a Master of Science degree in Africa and International Development from the University of Edinburgh, UK. I also hold a PhD in Social Anthropology from Stellenbosch University, where I was a Lisa Maskell Fellow from 2016 to 2018. I have conducted ethnographic fieldwork on local witchcraft beliefs and the controversial “witch camps” in Dagbambaland, northern Ghana, culminating in the authorship of my doctoral thesis titled “Naming the Witch, Housing the Witch and Living with Witchcraft: An Ethnography of Ordinary Lives in Northern Ghana’s Witch Camps”. In 2017, I presented a paper to Anthropology Southern Africa on fieldwork ethics in conditions where witchcraft is commonplace, which won the prestigious Monica Wilson Prize. In August 2023, I won the Evans-Pritchard Lectureship hosted by the University of Oxford. By this appointment, I remain the Evans-Pritchard Lecturer until May 2024. My teaching and research interests include witchcraft and magic, the anthropology of ageing, ethnography, kinship, medical anthropology, and the anthropology of religion and human rights.

Lilian Owoko

Kenya

Lilian Owoko holds a PhD in Anthropology from Maseno University. She joined the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Maseno University as a Graduate Assistant in 2008 and has risen graciously to the position of Lecturer. Her research interests are in the areas of social
protection for older populations, gender and social inclusion and adolescent sexuality.

As an anthropologist, she endeavours to situate the experiences of her respondents within the contexts where they find themselves. Using ethnography, she conducted her doctoral research: ‘Socio-cultural and demographic factors influencing adherence among adolescents living with HIV on second-line ART in rural western Kenya.’

In the Re-imagining Reproduction project, she will explore how adolescent mothers (especially those who got pregnant when schools in the country were closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020) are re-inventing their sexuality in a context where they have to return to basic education institutions after childbirth, as a matter of policy and at the same time raise their child. How do these adolescent mothers re-imagine their reproduction abilities and processes after their societally disvalued reproduction experiences? This project would also explore whether/or not assistive reproduction technologies promote/hinder these re-imaginings in rural western Kenya.

 

Stephen Ombere

Kenya

Stephen Okumu Ombere has PhD in Anthropology from the University of Bern-Switzerland and a lecturer in the department of Sociology and Anthropology, Maseno University-Kenya.

Stephen has conducted ethnographic fieldwork among the Giriama community in Kilifi county, coastal Kenya. He is passionate about maternal health, sexual reproductive health among youths, and vulnerable and marginalised groups.

Stephen is an active member of the Swiss Society for African Studies, Swiss graduate program in Anthropology, and an editor and reviewer for the International Journal of Public Health and the International Journal of Childbirth. In the past five years, Stephen has actively published several articles in refereed journals and two book chapters on maternal and child birth practices in Coastal Kenya.

Roselyn Kanyemba

South Africa

Roselyn Kanyemba is a Social Anthropologist. She holds a PhD in Anthropology from the University of KwaZulu Natal, an MSc in Development Studies from the National University of Science and Technology, and a BSc (Hons) in Sociology and Social Anthropology from the University of Zimbabwe. Areas of research interests include equal and quality education for females, decolonization of higher education spaces, sexual harassment, adolescent sexual and reproductive health rights, gender relations, adolescent HIV/AIDS and stigma, medication adherence and study of masculinities.

She approaches her work from an African feminist perspective. Her work centres on inquiry, questioning, dialoguing and transforming mindsets through research processes. Roselyn has significant experience working on collaborative studies with regional and international consultants and scholars. She has written extensively on adolescent sexual risk behaviours, sexist humour in a Higher education context, masculinities and HIV/AIDS, HIV stigma in adolescence and medication adherence. Her distinctive impact and contributions reflect in her works published in high-end journals such as AIDS and Behaviour, Frontiers in Public Health and Oriental Anthropologist, among others.

Simon Profile

Simon Mutebi

Tanzania

Dr. Simon Mutebi is a lecturer in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the University of Dar Es Salaam (UDSM), Tanzania. He completed his PhD in Social and Cultural Anthropology at Freie Universität Berlin, Germany, in 2020. His PhD thesis was on subjective experiences and practices of sexual performance concerns among young men in urban Tanzania. He has published and done several presentations on gender, masculinity, sexuality and health. Dr. Mutebi’s current project explores men’s perspectives and experiences of Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ARTs) in Tanzania. Specifically, the project is interested in answering the following questions: How do men’s ARTs shape the re-imaginings of reproduction abilities of men with infertility concerns? What ideals do men’s ARTs bring to men, and how do such ideals shape their re-imaginings of reproduction? How do men understand themselves as men or sexual men in the current context of ARTs? And finally, how do men’s understandings of the ideal sexual body shift with the advent of reproductive technologies in Tanzania?

Anitha Tingira

Tanzania

Anitha Tingira is a lecturer at the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the University of Dar es Salaam. She received her PhD from the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, Free University Berlin. She holds an MA (Sociology) and BA (Sociology) from the University of Dar es Salaam. Her area of interest is in sexual and reproductive health. She is also interested in the use of public health, insecticides, agrochemicals, and the future of human health.  

For her doctoral degree, she researched the provision and uptake of maternal health services in central rural Tanzania, focusing on women and healthcare providers’ experiences, for which she received the outstanding dissertation award from the Association for African Studies in Germany in 2022. Currently, her research focuses on chronic gynaecological conditions, infertility and gendered trajectories of infertility treatment seeking. In the Re-imagining Reproduction project, she will research the experience of women and men in Tanzania in pursuit of making babies with the help of in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) and those who have been successful through the use of the treatment.

Anitha Profile
Tariro Profile

Tariro Moyana-Mukwidigwi

Zimbabwe

Dr Tariro Moyana-Mukwidigwi is an anthropologist and lecturer affiliated with the National University of Science and Technology (NUST) in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. Holding a Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of KwaZulu Natal, her research interests lie at the intersection of anthropology, health, and spatial humanities. Driven by a passion for interdisciplinary research, she explores the complexities of gender, socio-cultural dimensions of health, women’s health experiences, and spatial justice within diverse cultural contexts.

In addition to her scholarly pursuits, Dr Moyana-Mukwidigwi teaches social and behavioural sciences at NUST, focusing on the socio-cultural dimensions of health. Her courses emphasise reproductive health, cultural determinants of health, and the aetiology of disease within African contexts. Notably, she has published research papers and contributed to an interdisciplinary project in spatial humanities.

Beyond academia, Dr. Moyana-Mukwidigwi dedicates herself to fostering inclusivity in her field. She envisions a more diverse representation of voices, advocating for initiatives that support underrepresented scholars and promote a broader range of cultural perspectives in research methodologies and scholarship. This commitment aligns with her goal to contribute to positive changes in societal perceptions and structures through impactful research and education.

Nelson Muparamoto

Zimbabwe

Nelson Muparamoto is a diversity and social inclusion analyst based in Zimbabwe, where he has been working with marginalised communities, advocating for social justice and inclusion. His key research areas are in sexualities, gender identity and expression.

For the Re-imagining Reproduction project, he is working on an ethnographic project regarding queering reproduction. Here, Nelson explores how queer-identifying women (Lesbian and Queer) in Harare navigate conception, birthing and kinning. Using ethnographic sociology, he seeks to explore the processes around the decision to make babies, the methods, creating familial and kinning processes in an environment that lacks a support structure for gender and sexuality-diverse persons. The project unpacks how lesbian and queer women shape and control their biology and reproduction. In addition, the project also seeks to understand how lesbian and queer women socialise their children, their kinning, and preparation for becoming citizens.

Research Associates

Salimah Valiani

Salimah Valiani is an independent researcher of world historical political economy, with specialisations in health, care, and mineral based development. She is the author of two research monographs, Rethinking Unequal Exchange: the global integration of nursing labour markets (University of Toronto Press 2012), and The Africa Care Economy Index (FEMNET and UNDP 2022). She is also authors’ editor of The Future of Mining in South Africa: Sunset or Sunrise? (Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflection 2018). Dr. Valiani served as a researcher and economist in unions, nongovernmental organisations and thank tanks in Canada and South Africa from 2001 to 2019. In 2012 she was received the Feminist Economics Rhonda Williams Prize – an award recognising feminist scholarship and activism in the spirit of the African American economist and advocate, Rhonda Williams.

Valiani is also a poet, with five published collections. Her latest, 29 leads to love (Inanna 2021), is the 2022 Winner of the International Book Award for Contemporary Poetry.

Benson Mulemi

Benson A. Mulemi is an Associate Professor of Anthropology from Kenya. He is a research associate at the Centre for Advancement of Scholarship, University of Pretoria and a fellow in the 2023  Leeds University Center African Studies/Leeds Arts and Humanities Research Institute virtual Fellowship.

He serves as a visiting professor/lecturer in the School of Humanities & Social Sciences at the South Eastern Kenya University and at the Department of Mental Health, Gulu University; Northern Uganda. He holds a PhD degree in Social Sciences with a concentration in Medical Anthropology from the University of Amsterdam, Netherlands.

His research interests include maternal and reproductive health in Kenya, anthropology of cancer, hospital ethnography and culture and disability. Mulemi’s publications include contributions to: The Encyclopaedia of Psychology and Religion; African Folklore: An Encyclopaedia; Encyclopaedia of African Thought; Chapters in edited book volumes, including: Pursuing Justice in Africa: Competing Imaginaries and Contested Practices; Anthropologies of Cancer in a Transnational Worlds; African Medical Pluralism; Making and Unmaking Public Health in Africa; and Human Enhancement Debate and Disability.

Affiliated Researchers

Nirvana Pillay

Nirvana Pillay is an independent public health and development research consultant at the Sarraounia Public Health Trust. She holds a visiting researcher position at the Wits School of Public Health. Her focus is on research, communication, capacity development, and translating research for policy and practice. Her research interests include the health and wellbeing of young people, adolescent sexual and reproductive health and rights, maternal and child health, and the health of farm workers.

She completed her PhD in Public Health at the University of the Witwatersrand (2019). Her doctoral study was based in Alexandra, Johannesburg, and draws on medical anthropology, sociology and public health to explore issues of agency and decision-making for young mothers aged 18 to 20. Her dissertation interrogates how discourses of early motherhood mediate young women’s experiences following an early, unplanned pregnancy, and elaborates on how young mothers navigate their social and structural contexts.