Searching for "an everyday choreography of the (im)possible" (borrowing from Hartman 2018)
My work inside and outside the lecture room has been focused on young people. As the numerical majority in Africa, I believe young people's narratives are central in understanding not only the future of our continent but also offer a unique vantage point to reading how our past is re-imagined in the present.
Overall my research interests are focused on three interrelated areas (1) how young people imagine the postcolonial nation, (2) intimacy and categorical identification and (3) decolonial pedagogies. These interests are shaped by a commitment to foregrounding our many experiments in anti-coloniality.
My current project "Collecting Collective Trauma: Lessons from Two Rainbow Nations".Mauritius and South Africa loom large in the global imaginary, not least of all for the multicultural ideal of a rainbow nation emerging from the shadow of grave atrocities of slavery and apartheid. The South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and the Mauritian Truth and Justice Commission (TJC), attempted to offer redress to victims of apartheid (in South Africa) and descendants of slavery and indentured labour (in Mauritius). At the edge of these two rainbow nations, are young people making meaning of the legacies of these historical traumas. This project traces the (mis)uses of the concept of collective trauma as applied “Coconuts” and young Creoles, young people on opposite sides of the Indian Ocean, who share in common a vexed relationship to categorical identifications of blackness, and official narratives of post-colonial nation building. This project engages ethnographers interested in understanding young people’s experiences in two post-colonial nations. The projects goal is to re-imagine how we theorize and undertake fieldwork in contexts laden with historical trauma, but where some persons who are assumed to be victims of this history refuse to claim this position. Building on the growing body of work on collective trauma globally, I focus on everyday articulations of young people’s cultural projects to read two different but entangled ethnographic refusals. The first being the misrecognition of “Coconuts” and Creole young people’s hybrid identification practices. And the second, my refusals as an ethnographer asking what gaps ethnographic refusal can open as a decolonizing research method.
I am a Mandela Rhodes Scholar (2011), a visiting fellow at MICA, Ahmedabad (2016); and for three years I taught an introduction to critical race theory” at the Stanford Bing Overseas Studies Program in Cape Town (2016-2018). I’ve worked as a lecturer at the University of Cape Town and I’m currently a lecturer at the University of the Witwatersrand. In 2020 I was named as one of the Mail and Guardian's Top 200 Young South Africans. I am currently a UMAPS visiting Fellow with the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (Winter 2022). Research Fellow at the Centre for Research on Evaluation, Science and Technology (CREST), Stellenbosch University (July 2022 to June 2025).
“I tell my students, 'When you get these jobs that you have been so brilliantly trained for, just remember that your real job is that if you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else. This is not just a grab-bag candy game.” ― Toni Morrison