Gender & Social Justice

GSJ Research Symposium with Dr. Selina Mudavanhu

The GSJ community warmly invites you to attend a Research Symposium with Dr. Selina Mudavanhu (co-sponsored with CNMAP) on April 4th, 2:30-3:30pm, in L.R. Wilson 2001.


Survivor: South Africa – Digital stories by doctoral degree holders from African countries who studied in South Africa

In 2022, Maryanne Oketch, a McMaster alumna walked away with the coveted title of sole survivor and one million dollars in the American reality television competition, Survivor. In the final tribal council of the 42nd season of the show that was filmed in Fiji, Oketch impressed her fans and competitors as she eloquently articulated the strategies that ensured she clinched victory. For many doctoral degree holders anywhere in the world, graduating with the qualification is synonymous with successfully conquering the odds.


In addition to stresses all doctoral students contend with, in South Africa, students from the African continent deal with additional challenges that are context specific. South Africa continues to grapple with legacies of racial segregation established during Apartheid and there are different kinds of intermittent and ongoing xenophobic and Afrophobic attacks on other Africans. Further, the levels of violence against women are especially high. In many orientation programs for international students, South African universities largely warn freshers about the crime in the country. Hardly anything is said to prepare African foreign students in particular to navigate the abovementioned environment.


Informed by the concepts of intersectionality and counter storytelling as well as working in collaboration with a colleague at the University of Johannesburg (Kezia Batisai) as part of the Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowship program, in the summer of 2022, we listened to 15 African doctoral degree holders who studied in South Africa sharing their stories of surviving and thriving during the time they were students. In addition to publishing the findings as journal articles, we are creating podcasts we plan to use in knowledge mobilization activities. Dr. Mudavanhu’s talk offers a sliver of this work.