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A rising research star

- Wits University

The Oppenheimer Memorial Trust (OMT) has awarded the Rising Star Fellowship to Associate Professor Peace Kiguwa.

Peace Kiguwa, Associate Professor in Department of Psychology, has been awarded the fellowship as part of the OMT African Studies Future initiative grant that seeks to explore alternative futures and reimagine Africa’s future developmental pathways. The fellowship provides support to rising talent in academia with potential to be leaders and advance interdisciplinary scholarship. Kiguwa will expand her research into gender and sexualities and place making where she will investigate how these intersect and manifest in society.

Kiguwa’s research interest has expanded into various disciplines and has solidified her as an interdisciplinary scholar since 2014 when she obtained her PhD from Wits, that explored racial subjectivity within the South African academy. Her research interests include social movements, race, gender and sexuality, diversity and ethnic conflicts in South Africa and Africa.

There is a growing amount of scholarly research produced in Africa on ethnic, racial, sexual, and gender diversity, and to a limited extent on queer theory. While there is acknowledgement of this burgeoning field of study, what seems to be amiss is the focus on localised knowledges that speak to different areas and contexts across the continent, says Kiguwa. In light of this, Kiguwa says she is interested in “developing this new lens in conducting localised and regional research illuminating localised epistemologies and creating critical knowledge rooted in local contexts with a regional and global reach.”

Associate Professor Peace Kiguwa

Kiguwa has a prolific publication record having published over 35 journal articles, 12 book chapters and edited four book chapters. She has supervised masters and PhD students. Her research has covered four main areas: methodological issues; theoretical issues; teaching and learning and the complexity of activism in knowledge creation. Over the years these focus areas have often co-existed in different research outputs.

Her interdisciplinary work and research spans editorial board member duties on three accredited Journals; Psychology In Society (PINS), African Studies (AS) and the International Journal of Critical Diversity Studies (IJCDS). While her research has been interdisciplinary in nature, she has also remained active in her home discipline, Psychology and is currently the coordinator for the psychology master’s programme. She is also current Chair of the Sexuality and Gender Division of the national Psychological Society in South Africa (PSYSSA).

Kiguwa has been awarded a number of awards, scholarships and grants for her academic citizenship including the 2016 Vice-Chancellor’s Teaching and Learning Award. The Rising Star fellowship will also enable her to pursue another interest of hers, mentoring young promising academics, says Kiguwa. As an academic and researcher, she has actively developed, and nurtured young researchers interested in the field of sexualities, genders, queer studies, and race studies through several research thrusts such as the Women Intellectuals Transforming Scholarship in Education (WITSIE), and the Narrative Enquiry for Social Transformation (NEST), a project coordinated by Professors Jill Bradbury and the late Bheki Peterson. Several of her mentees have completed their master’s degrees and some are currently under her supervision for their PhDs.

“What I want to do and what has always been my interest as an academic is to mentor scholarship. Over the years that interest has included being part of initiatives and projects that has focussed on building young scholarship,” she says.

Professor Garth Stevens, Dean of the Faculty of Humanities congratulated Kiguwa for being a recipient of the Rising Star Fellowship and said this is a big achievement for the Faculty of Humanities.

“The Rising Star Fellowship focuses on excellence, but is directed towards a scholar who shows exceptional promise. It is important for us as a Faculty that the award has been made to an extraordinary scholar like Professor Peace Kiguwa, as this signals the importance of the Humanities in contributing centrally to resolving the important human challenges of our time. We wish Professor Kiguwa well as she rises to these challenges and boldly engages new knowledge architectures that have become illuminated in a changing world and charts her way through new fields of development,” says Stevens.