The NIHSS-NMU postdoctoral research fellowship programme was opened officially on May, 17, 2022. It is a partnership between the National Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences and the DST-NRF SARChI Chair in Identities and Social Cohesion in Africa (ISCIA), which is seated in the Humanities Faculty at the Nelson Mandela University.



The ISICA Chair (Prof Andrea Hurst), together with the Chair’s co-ordinator Harsheila Riga, partnered with the NIHSS to set up a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship Programme in Humanities at the Nelson Mandela University. The idea is to bring together a community of high-level humanities and social sciences researchers – postdoctoral fellows and hosts – all working on projects that both follow their own passions and are linked together by the golden thread of concern for how deeply troubling social issues affect our identities as fellow South Africans and together with this, our efforts to form socially cohesive communities. Looking at the postdoctoral projects you will be struck by their wide diversity of interests. So what is it, across such diversity, that could bring us together in a cohesive scholarly community? A thought-image might help us understand what a cohesive community could look like in today’s age of extreme diversity. This image is something we are coming to see more and more clearly through very advanced and sophisticated technology, and yet it is as much an image of the ancient past as it is the image of a future we are only beginning to approach. This is the image of the interconnective mycelic network that has begun taking hold of the global imagination in so many domains of thinking. This image of the mycelium is a metaphor for inter- and trans-disciplinarity and the main aim of the programme, which brings together seven postdoctoral fellows and six hosts from different disciplines, is to foster cross-pollination of ideas in the hope of generating research that will help address diverse social issues. The flowers on our mycelium, the mushrooms – our postdoctoral fellows – are:

  • Dr Mvuzo, Ponono, working with host, Dr Belinda Du Plooy on ‘The institutionalisation of engagement in higher education: A collaborative model for the co-creation of engagement scholarship’.
  • Dr Jennalee Donian, working with host, Prof Andrea Hurst on ‘The power of humour in peacebuilding and reconciliation in post-apartheid South Africa.’
  • Dr Abigail Wiese, working with hosts, Prof Vulindlela Nyoni and Prof Andrea Hurst entitled ‘‘Askies'/‘askiesie’ articulating shame's affect in the post-apartheid landscape.’
  • Dr Joseph Sethabela, working with host, Prof Nomalanga Mkhize on ‘Exploring and assessing the usefulness of oral literature in the 21st Century in the secondary school curriculum based on Bakwena ba Mogopa clan praise poetry.’
  • Dr Marthie Momberg, working with host, Prof Andrea Hurst on ‘Christianity and the Shifting of Perceptions on Zionism:An Ethical-Theological Study of South African Church Positions on Justice for Palestinians’
  • Dr Alex Lenferna, working with host, Prof Janet Cherry on ‘Justice Will Save Us – An Exploration of How Justice is Central to Solving the Climate Crisis.’
  • Dr Busisiwe Lujabe, working with host, Prof Veonna Goliath on ‘Towards enhancing household food security in ward 60 (Wells Estate) of Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality using Community-Based Participatory Action Research (CPAR) and Transdisciplinary (TD) Research Approaches (Phase 2 and Phase 3).’
  • Dr Claudia Jansen van Rensburg, an NRF funded postdoctoral fellow, hosted by the ISCIA chair (Prof Hurst), is included in this network. She is working on ‘Decolonisation, Social Justice and Ownership: Perspectives on Music and Intellectual Property Law in South Africa.’