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Writing Fellowships 2019

The Johannesburg Institute for Advanced Study (JIAS) has selected ten, Writing Fellows for its four-month 2019 Writing Term, which will run from February to May. Drawn from hundreds of applicants, they include outstanding scholars, writers and artists from several continents. As previously, they will stay in private suites at the JIAS complex in Westdene, Johannesburg, which will offer them a quiet space for work and reflection as well as opportunities for academic community-building. The JIAS fellows were welcomed by JIAS director – Dr. Bongani Ngqulunga on the 4th of February 2019.


Romain Dittgen

Romain Dittgen is a Human Geographer holding a PhD from the University of Paris 1 (PanthéonSorbonne). He is currently a Postdoctoral fellow (‘Life in the City’ Research Grant), jointly hosted by the African Centre for Migration & Society and the South African Research Chair in Spatial Analysis & City Planning (SA&CP) at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. His research interests, framed around the spatial expression of capital and subsequent changes experienced by urbanites, speak to the evolving nature of cities within Southern Africa. In the past, he has held positions as Senior Researcher at SA&CP, the South African Institute of International Affairs, as joint visiting fellow at the African Studies Centre and the International Institute for Asian Studies (in Leiden, the Netherlands) and as Assistant Lecturer in the Department of Geography at the Sorbonne in Paris, France. At the moment, he is working on a book manuscript on Chinese urban spaces in Johannesburg and in Lusaka, to be co-authored with a Zambian architect, Dr. Gerald Chungu.

Lorena Nunez-Carrasco

Lorena Nunez- Carrasco is a chilean social anthropologist with a specialisation in Medical Anthropology, Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of the Witwatersrand. Her broader academic interest is on topics that intersect with culture and health. In her research, she explores the linkages between migration and health with a focus on mental and reproductive health. Her current comparative project, explores the role of the state and civil society through policies and practices in the realm of healthcare in relation to migrants, both in South Africa and Chile. It poses the questions of how and when, common categories of differentiation such as class, race or gender become more or less salient in relation to migrants in the area of health care.


Julie Grant

Julie Grant started working with South Africa’s indigenous ‡Khomani Bushmen in 2006 when she undertook her PhD fieldwork. In 2009 she started to work with the !Xun and Khwe Bushmen also based in South Africa. She continued this research as a postdoctoral fellow with the Centre for Communication, Society and Media Studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. From 2014, she worked alongside the ‡Khomani to implement a development project, while liaising with the ‡Khomani’s lawyers and the South African Human Rights Commission to facilitate government development. In 2017 she returned to research. Her interests include: land reform; perceptions of poverty and development; indigenous knowledge; the indigenous mind-set, and culturally responsive education, health and social care.

Dr Tanya Zack

Dr Tanya Zack is a South African urban planner, writer and reflective practitioner who straddles the worlds of planning practice, policy, academia and creative writing. Her planning experience over 25 years in Johannesburg has included academic writing and research, policy and the development of frameworks plans as well as participatory and activist planning in a scope of work that includes informal settlement upgrading, community participation processes, the informal economy, migrant entrepreneurialism, inner city policy for transformation and a host of housing related work. In addition to her professional work in the inner city Tanya’s curiosity and compulsion to collect stories have broadened the scope of her intrigue to personalities who inhabit the spaces not often exposed in literature about Johannesburg. She is the author of the series of ten photo books ‘Wake Up This is Joburg’. Tanya is also currently writing a manuscript on the so called Ethiopian quarter of inner city Johannesburg. Tanya grew up on the edge of inner city Johannesburg.


Anthea M Lesch

Anthea M Lesch is a lecturer, scholar, activist and qualitative researcher based in the Psychology Department at Stellenbosch University. Her work adopts a community psychological approach to examining inequality and its impact on the health and well-being of marginalized and oppressed groups in society. Her current research focusses on exploring processes of community engagement in biomedical HIV prevention research; using creative research methodologies to explore black women’s sexual and reproductive health literacy; and documenting the lived experiences of people living on the streets of urban Cape Town. During her writing fellowship at JIAS, she will produce a series of reflexive essays that use autoethnographic and political narrative approaches to explore race, racism and the racial collective consciousness in contemporary South Africa.

Thabo Jijana

Spanning colonial history, politics of space, and the self, Thabo Jijana’s book of 100 errata entries is driven by an enthusiasm for that which is rural-centered and seeks to problematize how the rural has been imaged in Mandelafrican popular culture. Reading rurality into Césaire’s notion of absent presence and Mafenuka’s avowal re: ukurhuda ude ubhodle as anti-fiction in order to perpetually foreground questions on his rural identity, he strives to correct erroneous portrayals of village living by assigning a variety of refreshing but no less in-depth, well-articulated, sui generis interpretations of present-day village life, as a way to show how the rural has for too long suffered from a devastating misrepresentation by writers, musicians, filmmakers, opinionmakers and artists who have generally overburdened it with false, harsh, unbalanced, ultimately patronizing and utterly ignorant depictions. Awarded the Ingrid Jonker Prize for Poetry (2016) for his volume Failing Maths and My Other Crimes and most recently featured in an exhibition, To see this better, close your eyes, at the Reid Gallery, The Glasgow School of Art, Scotland (2018), Thabo Jijana hails from eNgqushwa, in rural Eastern Cape and is a publisher at Black Letter Media, Johannesburg.


Ivan Panović

Ivan Panović is an assistant professor of Linguistics and Multilingual Studies in the School of Humanities at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. Prior to this appointment, he was an Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Oxford. Ivan is a sociocultural linguist who draws on ethnography and multimodal discourse analysis to study vernacular writing and literacies as social practices, language ideologies, language creativity, sociolinguistic aspects of migration and social and spatial mobility, as well as the relationships between language, gender, and sexuality. He is currently completing his monograph on vernacular literacies in contemporary Cairo, Egypt.

Jodi Mikalachki

Jodi Mikalachki is Associate Professor of English at the University of Burundi. A Canadian by birth and upbringing, she received her doctorate from Yale University and has taught in the United States, Kenya and Burundi. She writes about national stories, with a particular interest in questions of gender and violence. Exploring how communities find passages through violence, she reflects on nonviolent social and aesthetic practices of solidarity. Her novel-in-progress, set in the cyclical violence of post-colonial Burundi, follows individuals, families and the nation as they negotiate trauma and the ruptures it leaves in their histories. Bringing together characters from different Burundian social groups as well as foreign missionaries, it examines the fascinations, dangers, impasses and opportunities of cross-cultural relationships.


Thando Mgqolozana

Thando Mgqolozana Thando Mgqolozana is a novelist. His books include A Man Who is Not a Man (2009), Hear Me Alone (2011), and Unimportance (2014). He was selected as one of the 100 Most Influential Africans (2016), awarded the Mandela Rhodes (2006) and Canon Collins (2018) scholarships. His is the co-author of Inxeba: The Wound (2018), an Oscar-shortlisted, record breaking film; and he is the founder of Abantu Book Festival, a hallmark annual literary event staged in Soweto.



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