BA International Partnership
In recent years violence, health and migration have all become major areas of research in social anthropology and the social sciences, particularly as they are studied and carried out in the Southern African region. However, too often these areas are seen as separate research themes, and are studied separately by scholars based in different research institutions and programmes. This partnership builds on the shared recognition that these are not separate aspects of life in Southern Africa but are rather fundamentally intertwined and inter-related, both historically and in the contemporary period, through the corporeal realities of social, political and cultural life across the region. The central thrust of this project is therefore to use the notion of 'Transforming Bodies' to bring together areas of diverse research on the region in the social sciences, through a shared focus on the bodily dimensions that link violence, migration and health for the lives of people across Southern Africa.
This is a particularly timely intellectual theme, given that there has been something of renaissance of work in recent years looking at the material implications of bodies, corpses, bones, and human remains, body parts, blood and substances. This resurgence of interest has taken many foci, from the illegal trade in body parts, to the governance of the dead, and from funerary rites, commemoration and the history of death in Africa, to blood and organ donation, to name but a few. All these diverse themes share a focus on the complex materialities of bodily forms and substances. By focusing on violence, migration and health, this partnership seeks deliberately to bring together those aspects of life (as well as death, already a well studied and recurring theme) in Southern Africa, in which corporeal materialities are unusually significant for people living in, and moving across the region today.
The contemporary regional significance of emerging debates about the transforming and inter-related bodily dimensions of violence, health and migration is perhaps best illustrated by the complex lives of African migrants in South Africa, whose often difficult journeys into, and marginal lives within South Africa are profoundly provoked, marked and experienced through bodily inscriptions and forms of violence, the bodily movement of people(s) across local and national boundaries, and the devastating corporeal effects of HIV and other infectious diseases, often exacerbated by in-adequate or non-existent access to health care.
While the contemporary example of African migrants moving to and living in South Africa exemplifies the kind of contributions the project will have for development organisations, policy makers and service providers working with these particularly marginalised groups, the larger intellectual purpose of the partnership is explore this bodily nexus of violence, migration and health from an a historically informed, interdisciplinary and regional perspective, bringing together a wide range of current and emerging scholarship and scholars working on related themes based in different but related disciplines and institutions.
Therefore this partnership is based on a shared recognition that the changing and entangled social and political meanings and materialities of bodies is a theme that not only brings together the existing strengths and research interests of all three partners, but also constitutes a highly topical area for building new interdisciplinary and collaborative, empirical and theoretical research in and on the Southern African region. These are extremely prominent issues within the region and are studied from a variety of different perspectives within the two institutions.
This page was published on 9 February 2012