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Writing Fellowships 2016

IN 2016, JIAS hosted its first intake of Writing Fellows for a Writing Term running from mid-February to mid-May. They were based at the JIAS complex in Westdene for the duration of the semester, which offered them a quiet space for work and reflection, and an opportunity for academic community-building. Short biographical notes of the 2016 Writing Fellows follow.


Esther Akinlabi

Esther Akinlabi is Head of the Department of Mechanical Engineering Science at the University of Johannesburg. Her research centres on modern manufacturing processes. She is a Y2-rated researcher under the South African National Research Foundation rating system, and has authored/co-authored 120 peer-reviewed publications. She has received numerous awards, and several research grants. She is a member of the South African Young Academy of Science.

Sylvester C Chima

Sylvester C Chima is Associate Professor and Head of the Programme of Bio and Research Ethics and Medical Law at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. After qualifying as a medical doctor in Nigeria, he trained as a pathologist and neuropathologist at Howard University, Yale University and New York University. He also holds a master’s degree in medical law from Northumbria University. Prof Chima has worked at various prominent institutions, including the Yale-New Haven Hospital in Connecticut; the National Institute of Health in Bethesda, Maryland; and the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York. Prior to joining UKZN he was Associate Professor and Chair of Pathology at the International American Medical University in St Lucia, West Indies. Prof Chima has published widely in international journals, and is the author/co-author of three books on medical law and ethics and African health issues.


David Coplan

David Coplan is professor and chair of social anthropology at the University of the Witwatersrand. He studied at the University of Ghana and Indiana University, and previously taught at New York University and the University of Cape Town. His areas of interest include the performing arts and the media, including the South African and global music industries, radio and television; cultural industries, heritage and tourism; and the cultural and spiritual traditions of southern Africa. He is the author of In Township Tonight! Three Centuries of Black South African Music and Theatre (Jacana 2007). He frequently comments on cultural issues on South African television, and has helped to produce a number of documentaries, including Songs of the Adventurers (Constant Spring Productions 1986), a cinematic account of his research on the folk performances of African migrant workers.

Fred Khumalo

Fred Khumalo is the author of Bitches’ Brew (Jacana 2006), which won the European Union Literary Prize in 2006, and Seven Steps to Heaven (Jacana 2007). His autobiography, Touch My Blood (Umuzi 2006) was shortlisted for the Alan Paton Prize for Non-Fiction in 2007. He holds a master’s degree in creative writing from Wits University, and was a Nieman Fellow in 2011–2012. His short story ‘Legs of Thunder’ was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize 2015, and ‘Water No Get Enemy’ received an honourable mention in the Short Story Day Africa 2015 contest. His short stories and poems have appeared in various anthologies, literary journals and consumer magazines. He has also won numerous awards for his journalistic work.


Kim Gurney

Kim Gurney works across disciplines in fine art, academic research and journalism. She has held two solo exhibitions, and participates annually in group shows. Kim also engages other artists as curator, often in unusual spaces, and manages a nomadic platform, guerilla gallery, for experimental work, Kim is a research associate of the Visual Identities in Art and Design (VIAD) Research Centre at UJ. She is author of The Art of Public Space (Palgrave 2015), completed with UCT’s African Centre for Cities, and is working on a second book.

Desiree Lewis

Desiree Lewis teaches in the Women’s and Gender Studies Department at the University of the Western Cape. She is the author of Living on a Horizon: Bessie Head and the Politics of Imagining (Africa Research & Publications 2007), and numerous book chapters, articles, and monographs on feminism, literary studies, sexualities, and popular culture. She serves on the boards of several interdisciplinary national and international journals, and has been the principal researcher on projects funded by the IDRC and the Mellon Foundation. She has held research fellowships in the United States, Sweden and South Africa. She is currently working on a book dealing with assemblage and intersectionality in South Africa from the mid-1990s to the present.


Harry Kalmer

Harry Kalmer has written 23 plays and nine books of fiction. He often writes about Johannesburg, and does so mostly in Afrikaans. His book ‘n Duisend Stories oor Johannesburg: ‘n Stadsroman (Queillerie 2014) was short-listed for seven awards. An English-language verion is due to appear in 2016. His most recent play, The Bram Fischer Waltz, won both the Standard Bank Silver Ovation Award (2013) and the Adelaide Tambo Award for Celebrating Human Rights through the arts (2015). It will be published in both English and Afrikaans by Wits University Press in 2016. His short story ‘Luminosity’ was included in the book Ponte City by Mikhael Subotzky and Patrick Waterhouse (Steidl 2014), which won the Deutsche Börse Prize 2015, and was also published in the United States and Holland.

Michael Kasenbacher

Michael Kasenbacher is a freelance researcher, based in Johannesburg. Born and raised in Vienna, he studied philosophy, politics and economics in the United Kingdom and sociology in Mexico, where he obtained a doctorate. He has been a regular speaker at conferences and seminars at universities across Europe and the Americas. He has translated two books, and several journal articles. He is currently working on his first book, which is about the meaning of work.


Yewande Omotoso

Yewande Omotoso is a Barbadian-Nigerian who grew up in Cape Town and currently lives in Johannesburg. A qualified architect, she completed a master’s degree in creative writing at the University of Cape Town. Her debut novel Bomboy (Modjaji Books 2011) was shortlisted for the 2012 Sunday Times Fiction Prize. She was a 2013 Norman Mailer Fellow, a 2014 Etisalat Fellow, and a 2015 Miles Morland Scholar. Her second novel, The Woman Next Door (Chatto and Windus) will be published in May 2016.

David wa Maahlamela

David wa Maahlamela, an award-winning author of four books, holds MA in Creative Writing and PhD in African Languages from Rhodes University. Named twice on the Mail & Guardian Top Young South Africans list, he previously served as a council member for National Arts Council as well as National English Literature Museum (Amazwi). His works appeared in over-fifty journals and publications nationwide and beyond. He currently chairs the Pan South African Language Board. His interests include literature, languages, and translation.


Tabitha Mulyampiti

Tabitha Mulyampiti is a senior lecturer in women and gender studies at Makerere University in Kampala-Uganda. She holds a doctorate in political science from the University of Vienna, and a master’s degree in women studies from Makerere University. Besides teaching at various universities, she is an active researcher and consultant, specialising in social and political-economic analyses, including institutional development in support of programming. Her work has centred on gender analysis, the public sector, and national development planning, which she has conducted in Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa, and Swaziland. She has also worked in the agriculture, education, health and energy sectors. She has helped to develop the girl-child strategies in the education sectors in Uganda and South Sudan; drafted a national gender policy for South Sudan; and drafted a gender and HIV strategy for Oxfam GB in the Southern African region.


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