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Visiting and emeritus affiliates

Associate Prof. Aly Karam

Aly KaramProfile image is a Visiting Associate Professor in the School of Architecture and Planning at University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. He lectured in the areas of housing, urban economics, research design and planning techniques. His research interests and publications extend to both the planning and the architecture disciplines. In architecture he publishes on marketing and on the use of IT in practice and its effect on the management of the offices. His planning research and publications revolve around informality, land and real estate, housing policy and the housing process. In 2012/13, he was instrumental in securing funding support for the Rosettenville Studio in CUBES and played a key role in this School-wide initiative. Up to 2020, he served on the CUBES Steering Committee.

Associate Prof. Claire Benit-Gbaffou

Profile imageClaire Benit-Gbaffou is an Associate Professor: Planning, in the Department of Geography, Planning and the Environment at Aix Marseille University, a researcher in MESOPOLHIS (Mediterranean Center of Sociology, Political Studies and History), Aix-en-Provence, and a Visiting Scholar at CUBES. She holds a PhD in Geography and Planning, and am a former fellow of Ecole Normale Supérieure (Ulm). Prof Claire Benit-Gbaffou is interested in local activism and urban change in large cities – in the field of urban governance and urban politics, where she studies the interface between civil organisation and public authorities. Recently, she has been focusing on institutional activism, i.e. activism from inside the City Hall, interrogating how progressive urban policies are conducted by municipal officials. She has conducted fieldwork in Johannesburg on this topic, and is pursuing this line of research in contemporary Marseille. In this context, she has focused in particular on the governance of public spaces (street trading and its regulation, urban parks). Prof Benit-Gbaffou has recently completed editing of a collective book under the auspices of CUBES, entitled Local officials and the struggle to transform cities – a view from post-apartheid South Africa (forthcoming 2024, UCL Press). This book, which involves several colleagues and former doctoral candidates in CUBES, results from an NRF research programme coordinated in CUBES (2014-2019), ‘Practices of the State in Urban Governance’. Prior to this, Prof Benit-Gbaffou coordinated the Yeoville Studio between 2010 and 2012, which led to the edition of the collective book The Politics of Community-Based Research – Lessons from Yeoville Studio (Wits Press, 2019). She is currently developing a similar initiative, Marseille 4-5 Studio, in Aix Marseille University. 

Prof. Alison Todes

Alison Todes is Professor Emerita with the Wits School of Architecture and Planning, where she was formerly Professor of Urban and Regional Planning from 2007 to 2023, and Programme Director for Planning in the School for several years. She was previously a Research Director at the Human Sciences Research Council, and a Professor in the School of Architecture, Planning and Housing at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, where she also worked for the Built Environment Support Group. She began her career at the University of Cape Town’s Urban Problems Research Unit. She is an NRF B-rated researcher with many publications in the field. She was co-principal investigator of the CUBES research project ‘Living the Urban Peripheries project: Investment, Infrastructure and Economic Change in African City-Regions’ (with University of Sheffield) (2016-2019), which will be published by Manchester University Press in 2024. Her co-authored book with Professor Philip Harrison in the School, ‘The Promise of Planning: Global Aspirations and South African Experience Since 2008’ will be published by Routledge in 2024.

Dr Kristen Kornienko

Profile imageKristen Kornienko first came to Wits University’s School of Architecture and Planning as a Fulbright Fellow 2007-2008, and then took up PhD studies in the same School (2009-2013). She was then a postdoc hosted in CUBES, and since 2016 has been a visiting scholar in CUBES. She is currently an academic staff member and coordinator of the Global Studio at RAIC Centre for Architecture, Athabasca University, Canada. Activism has become central to Kristen's work as both an educator and a creative practitioner of transformative socio-spatial justice through design. She is self-reflective on the power dynamics within white social constructs focusing on their violence and impact on cultural and racial identities and everyday lives. Her collaborative work takes action to decolonize our minds, institutions, and places. She is a co-founder of 1955 Creative Collaboration, an experimental collaborative in Kliptown, Soweto, South Africa. Kristen is a fifth generation white settler living on traditional lands of the Secwepemc Nation (politically known as British Columbia, Canada). These lands were stolen without treaty through land appropriation in the mid-1800s during colonization and remain unceded to this day. Thus she is a squatter on these lands, yet she benefits from the intergenerational wealth and security of land ownership.  She would like to acknowledge and thank the ancestors and people of the Splatsin, Neskonlith, and Skwlax Bands for their ongoing inclusive activities towards healing and conciliation, and in the defence of the land, water, and creatures of this region.

Dr Hloniphile Simelane

Profile imageDr Hloniphile Yvonne Simelane is currently serves as a Policy Analyst based at the United Nations -Eswatini. Previously, she worked for Planact, a non-governmental organisation promoting inclusive local governance processes in South Africa. She also served in Manzini City Council and other organisations in the Kingdom of Eswatini. She holds a PhD from the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), Sussex University and has a background in Development Studies, Public Administration and Sociology. Her contributions are directed towards policy, processes and programmes aimed at improving the conditions of vulnerable communities. Her interdisciplinary research focuses primarily on Africa and is concerned with sustainable development, land tenure, informal settlements, gender local government and peace and development. Within CUBES, she collaborates with Prof Mfaniseni Sihlongonyane, who also hosted her as a postdoc, and receives additional support from Prof Marie Huchzermeyer. Her previous contribution to the School of Architecture and Planning includes conducting research, thesis supervision, presenting in seminars and conferences and serving as an internal examiner. 

Dr Njabulo Chipangura

profile imageNjabulo Chipangura has a PhD in Anthropology from the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. He is the Curator of Living Culture at Manchester Museum. As a curator of Living Cultures, he is responsible for the care of more than 25,000 objects from Africa, Asia, Oceania and the Americas, as well as building new research and forming relationships and collaborations. A key curatorial responsibility on this role is giving these collections a biography through carrying out comprehensive provenance research. His research focus is on understanding empirical ways by which the museum practice can be decolonised through epistemic and aesthetic disobedience by undoing earlier ways of knowledge production in collections and exhibition practices. At the centre of his work is a concern with pragmatics of decolonising the museum through co-production, co-curatorship and collaborating with source and or diaspora communities in reconfiguring and re-writing stories of objects within their secular or ceremonial uses prior to their dispossession

Dr Paula Meth

Profile imagePaula Meth has been working with staff at CUBES and SoAP for over 20 years. Her visits to CUBES have included delivering a seminar; supporting preparation for a photographic exhibition; attending a conference; running qualitative methods events with staff and students; developing collaborative funding grant proposals; the dissemination of findings to staff and external visitors; and engagement with honours and masters' students research outputs. Her research work with CUBES staff can be viewed here https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/usp/research/projects/youth-work-housing/, and  https://www.wits.ac.za/urbanperiphery/ 


Dr Nadine Appelhans

profile imageNadine Appelhans holds a PhD in Urban Planning and is a senior researcher at the Habitat Unit, TU Berlin. As the Scientific Co-ordinator of the Wits-TUB-UNILAG Urban Lab she collaborates with Prof. Mfaniseni Sihlongonyane and Prof. Marie Huchzermeyer during her stays at CUBES since October 2022. She engages with the PhD and Master scholarship holders in the Urban Management programme, and so far held guest lectures in the Planning for Housing, Infrastructure, Services, and Transport course and the Faces of the City series.

Dr Olumuyiwa Adegun

Profile imageOlumuyiwa Adegun is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Architecture, Federal University of Technology, Akure. Nigeria. He completed his PhD at University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg (Wits), South Africa with a thesis that explored Just Sustainability at the nexus of Informal Settlement Intervention and Green Infrastructure. He is Visiting Research Fellow, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg through which he is affiliated with CUBES. His main research interests and engagements have dealt with issues related to environmental sustainability in low-income housing and slums/informal settlements within cities in sub-Sahara Africa.

Dr Tanya Zack

Profile imageDr Tanya Zack holds a BScTRP and PhD from Wits and is a SAPI and RTPI member. She specialises in urban policy, regeneration, informality and sustainable development. She has been an advisor and consultant in the development arena for over 25 years and has worked with government, academic institutions, the private sector, and directly with community groups. She has wide experience in establishing and managing teams on complex programmes integrating fields such as housing, informal economies, city governance and sustainable development with policy development, capacity building and meaningful monitoring and evaluation. Her projects in the inner city including taking a lead in the development of an inner- city transformation policy, and on cross border shopping, have influenced City strategy and are recognised as ground-breaking interventions. She is the author of entitled Wake Up This Is Joburg (Duke University Press, 2023) [hyperlink to https://www.wits.ac.za/news/latest-news/opinion/2023/2023-03/the-real-joburg-in-6-powerful-photos-.html]. Her involvement with CUBES has centred on research, policy and advocacy work in support of managed informal trade in Johannesburg’s inner city.