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Where the power to dominate resides

- Deborah Minors

Pumla Dineo Gqola is a Professor in the Department of African Literature. She is interested in how power works in contemporary societies.

Her research focus areas include slave memory, post-apartheid public culture, rape culture, African feminisms, African feminist imagination and masculinities, and femininities in Black Consciousness literature. She is interested in how power works in contemporary societies.

Gqola's research explores how ideas about groups of marginal people travel across time, contexts and spaces. How do some ideas come to be taken for granted as “common sense” and how can the project of imagining freer ways of being be amplified?

Essentially this research interrogates how the power to dominate is entrenched through violent systems of knowledge-making, through the histories of ideas, as well as counter-hegemonic discourses.

Gqola’s work on slavery, race and rape (separately and intersectionally) has implications for the workings of power in contemporary society, whether in South Africa or in comparative contexts globally.

As feminist research and movements point to a pervasive rape culture globally, understanding how to interrupt such narratives is important.

Through her work Gqola challenges assumptions that abstraction only comes from those spaces explicitly marked as “theory”. She remains convinced that sometimes counterintuitive readings are epistemically productive.

Gqola is the winner of the prestigious 2016 Sunday Times Alan Paton Award for her book entitled Rape: A South African Nightmare.