I’m a published Social Anthropologist

Connected Lives: Families, Households and Care in South Africa edited by Professors Nolwazi Mkhwanazi and Lenore Manderson is finally here. This means that I am officially a published Anthropologist – let me go update my CV! It seems like a lifetime ago when I was navigating the public health section of my university’s medical campus in search of the venue that they had organised for the Families, Households and Care Workshop. I just remember feeling really intimidated about being one of the youngest (and least credentialed) people in the room so I mostly kept quiet and kept to myself while trying to learn as much as I can. My favourite part about being involved in workshops and conferences is seeing how people working in similar areas of research can be gathered together to think together about what a collective contribution to knowledge production can look like and then being part of that process over time; editing and communicating for years until everything is has been checked off the list and all that’s left is to receive the copies from the publisher. Here is more information about the book:

Connected lives: Families, households, health and care in contemporary South Africa, illustrates the changing constitution and the variability of households, fluid understandings of family, and the impact of these in the context of life changes and health problems. Through 29 case studies of people of diverse backgrounds in terms of ethnicity, class, sex and gender, of varying ages and from both urban and rural backgrounds, the authors explore the household as a site for the production of health and care. The book illustrates the impact of economic, demographic and social changes on households and families, and considers how these factors influence everyday life, health, wellbeing and care in contemporary South Africa. This book will interest those in global public health, anthropology, and population and demography studies.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we had to cancel the physical book launch and find a way to create a virtual one instead. So, here is the book launch, a series of 1 minute long videos from each author. My case study was drawn from my Master’s research on compensated (“blesser and blessee”) relationships. My summary is below:

You’ll notice that the Youtube page that the videos are hosted on reads Medical Health Humanities Africa. It is an African network of medical and health humanities academics, artists, healers and activists that Professor Mkhwanazi has been involved in creating  – if that sounds like you, you can check out the website and join. And, you can purchase Connected Lives: Families, Households and Care in South Africa here.

Nolwazi & Lenore

Thank you, Nolwazi and Lenore, for believing in my work and helping me to shape my contribution into something worth publishing!

My Master of Social Anthropology Dissertation

Discussing my work on Power FM’s #AcademicDigest

I have written. I have read. I have edited and deleted everything and started again. I have cried. I have agonised. I have procrastinated. I have carried this work with me to London, to New York (twice), layovers in Cairo and Dubai – while doing other important work, always staying in to write at least one paragraph – and finally, when it was complete, I presented it in Mumbai. I have crossed into new years with this work. I have become an author in a completely new genre while doing this work. I have taken my time and given so much of myself for it to be here today and I’m just so grateful for the community that loved me and held me through this work.

It has not been loaded onto the Wits University database yet.

Here’s to the end of the chapter titled: “Lebohang studies and completes a Masters degree – can you believe it?” I wasn’t prepared for how long and demanding this journey would be and the creativity I would summon to distract myself from doing it *enter children’s book and a whole new life as a literary figure* and the many steps it takes until it’s officially done done but we are finally here now. (I consider this the official end because the graduation ceremony is optional.) This research has been such a ride. I really got to know myself anew and witness my entire political beliefs do a 180° transformation. I got to sharpen my instincts as a researcher and to trust the guidance of my intuition. It’s also been very hard being on the opposite side of people’s moral stances and being addressed like a delinquent here and there. So it has been immensely affirming to recieve feedback from people who really get it. My convictions may make the work controversial but as long as I remain true to my personal ethic of thinking and writing about black womanhoods in ways that are respectful and dignified, I’ll be okay. When I approached the women with whom I worked in this dissertation, I promised that I would not reproduce the trope that the media loves; the lie that black women are either so hypersexual or so poor that they have to sleep with men for money. I’m not interested in that. I am interested in exploring adult women’s consensual romantic practices with their partners and the logics that inform their desire to only date men of particular financial and social standings, with the context of a neoliberal society. While I do consider the vulnerabilties and violence that these women could encounter, I am more interested in the pleasures and joys of their lives. I do not want to constantly represent black women’s lives as marred by struggle when there is a plurality of experiences and when we are out here living and loving happily, too. Continue reading “My Master of Social Anthropology Dissertation”