Research Delivering cutting-edge basic and applied research.
Research Delivering cutting-edge basic and applied research.
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Research activity is prioritised by the School. It's committed to providing the resources needed for its staff and students to deliver cutting-edge research.

The School continues to move towards its overall research strategy. This strategy is dependant upon: 

  • Increasing the quality of outputs
  • Facilitating the establishment and consolidation of areas of research strength
  • Identifying sources of project funding external to those conventionally tapped from within the University
Critical Affect Studies (CAS) Cluster

This cluster was established in 2022, and brings together a network of affect theory scholars, within the SHCD and across the Institution. It aims to establish a vibrant community of scholars conducting research engaging affect theory; convene workshops and symposia on the study of affect, involving both staff and student collaborations and exchanges; encourage staff and student publications through avenues that include retreats, mentorship, special journal issue proposals and edited volumes.

The cluster has three broad aims:

  1. To strengthen existing interdisciplinary research and theorizing on affect in the school and across the institution;
  2. To develop theoretical insights into conceptualization of the psycho-social subject; and
  3. To develop methodological plurality that attempts to theorise beyond the discursive subject but engages the contemporary subject in a more nuanced manner.

The objectives and analytic framing is operationalized through cross-cutting themes that include but are not limited to:

  1. Spatial geographies;
  2. Interactional studies of group formation; 
  3. Violence studies;
  4. Gender studies;
  5. Black studies;
  6. Embodied enactments, affective-discursive practices.

Prof Peace Kiguwa | E-mail:

Dr Nkululeko Nkomo | E-mail:

Dr Mpho Mathebula | E-mail:

WITS Neuroscience Research Lab (Wits Neurl)

The WITS Neuroscience Research Lab (NeuRLis a space designed to facilitate cross-disciplinary collaboration, enhance and contextualise theory, and augment and support effective practice and research in the field of neuroscience in the South African context.  Wits NeuRL represents both a physical space where innovative research is carried out using a range of methodologies, as well as a group of academics with varied research interests in clinical, cognitive, computational and social-affective neuroscience. 


Prof. Kate Cockcroft 
Tel: 011 717 4511 

Health Communication Research Unit (HCRU)

The HCRU is an interdisciplinary research group concerned with understanding the unique challenges of cultural and linguistic diversity in health and community care contexts.

Over the past two decades, the HCRU has engaged with clinical and community sites and developed research-based recommendations and communication skills training programmes to improve the quality of care in health and community spaces. 

Our research focuses on health care communication, a fledgling field in South Africa that uses applied research methods from the social sciences and linguistics to address social, cultural, linguistic and ethical complexities of health, illness and disability.

Prof. Jennifer Watermeyer 
Tel: 011 717 4578

The Wits Violence Studies Group (WVSG)

Since the declaration of violence as a public health problem interdisciplinary research has produced vast quantities of empirical data on risk factors for violence in a range of countries and community contexts that have informed several effective interventions and a number of impressive decreases in rates of homicide across the world.

Despite the unquestionable successes of this orientation in cataloguing risk and protective factors, relatively little is known about the situational factors and mechanisms that translate risks for violence into enactments of violence itself.

Without stronger explanations of these situational pathways to violence, understandings of violence remain “fuzzy”. In response to this challenge, the Wits Violence Studies Group (VWSG) was established in 2013. Our current flagship project is the Violence in Talk and Action (VAT) project which involves the use of micro-sociological, conversation analytic and critical and clinical psychological methods to analyse a collection of approximately 500 videos of violence that we have sourced, collated and catalogued.

Other projects include a national study of the contexts of robbery-violence, community uses of collective violence, an interdisciplinary study of the economies of morality that shape violent enactments, and critical psychological approaches to the violence/trauma nexus.

Prof. Brett Bowman 
Tel: 011 717 8335

Narrative Enquiry for Social Transformation (NEST)

NEST seeks to undertake research that returns us to the scenes of intimacy, contemplation, pleasure, affirmation and crime in order to listen, acknowledge, investigate, archive, understand and, where appropriate, celebrate the persistence and importance of narrative and aesthetics in our lives and, more importantly, in what makes us human.  

Narrative research offers the possibility of tracing identities and visions across time as constructed through inter/cross-generational experience and storytelling; the transmission of unofficial histories, the proffering of alternative accounts by ordinary people that unsettle the normative perspectives of those in power; and the mutation and reconstruction of (cultural) memory.  

We explore the narrative formation of consciousness and subjectivities and the ways in which narrative both constrains and enables agency. Our interests are in the analysis of narrative form in multiple modalities: textual, visual, archival, aural and performative.  

The project aims to utilise connections and juxtapositions between different narrative forms to extend the reach of the Humanities in innovative processes and products of knowledge. The project specifically focuses on silenced narratives and the ways in which these may be articulated in resistant and productive ways.  

Prof. Jill Bradbury  
Tel: 011 717 4515

Psychoanalytic Studies

Wits Psychology has a decade-long reputation as a department with particular expertise in psychoanalytic studies.  At present, a number of staff members are involved in psychoanalytically oriented research. The School is home, therefore, to a sophisticated group of existing informal and formal groupings whose research centres around psychoanalytic studies. 

The Psychoanalytic Studies research cluster offers an opportunity to build on existing strengths in order to improve research productivity. Because such groupings straddle teaching, mentorship, higher degrees and research, there is potential for growth in all these areas. The research cluster focuses on the development of postgraduate students (for example through symposia and research publications) as well as a flexible umbrella for staff to advance their research interests.  

A twofold scope encompasses existing strengths: research focused on applied psychoanalytic practice and research focused on the application of psychoanalysis to social issues. These are also the two areas where psychoanalysis is currently experiencing an explosion of innovation internationally. The specificities of the South African context (e.g. the strong need for non-traditional forms of practice and the high level of diversity – in its widest sense – in the population) imply that South African scholars have great potential for innovation in these areas. 

Prof. Carol Long
Tel: 011 717 4510


The Net10 research cluster collaborates with researchers from other universities in the Southern African region. Our work undertakes multi/cross/inter-disciplinary research, advocacy and interventions on Father (Dis)connections (FACT) and Sexual Orientation and Gender identities/Expressions (SOGIE) framed against research principles on sexual and reproductive health rights.


Prof Mzikazi Nduna
Tel: 011 717 4168

Dr Simangele Mayisela
Tel: 011 717 4529

Swallowing and Dysphagia Society

The Swallowing and Dysphagia Society is a research group that was started by academic staff at the Department of Speech-Language Pathology, who share an interest and passion for dysphagia. Our focus is on dysphagia practices in South Africa and we hope to:

  • Facilitate, promote and support research in the area of swallowing and dysphagia (across the lifespan) in the South African context through research
  • Promote interest in dysphagia among undergraduate, postgraduate and post-doctoral students
  • Identify opportunities for collaboration both within and outside of Speech Pathology at a national and international level
  • Provide a platform for information sharing in the field of swallowing and dysphagia for medical professionals, allied health professionals individuals with swallowing and/or dysphagia related impairment, as well as their caregivers
  • Promote opportunities for continuing professional development in dysphagia in the form of journal clubs, workshops, lecture series and webinars
  • To provide recommendations for policy, practice and clinical guidelines in the area of dysphagia
  • To develop theories that speak to transformation of current dysphagia practices within the University and beyond


Dr Jaishika Seedat
Tel: 011 717 4576 

Dr Kim Coutts
Tel: 011 717 4572 

The Wits Preventive Audiology (WPA) Cluster

This cluster grew from the Wits Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) group and was funded by the NIHSS – with Prof Katijah Khoza-Shangase as its Lead. Preventive healthcare, where preventive audiology is located, consists of measures taken for disease prevention. Hearing function can be affected by a number of factors, including lifestyle choices, environmental factors, genetic predisposition, burden of disease, as well as other causes. Most often, hearing impairment can be prevented; and/or its consequences minimized through preventive measures. Such prevention requires carefully deliberated anticipatory actions that can be categorized as primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention (prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation). South Africa, as a resource-constrained developing country still has a challenge of high numbers of individuals with preventable hearing impairment from cradle to grave. Numerous strategies exist for prevention of hearing impairment across all ages and in various contexts. This cluster’s research focus “Preventive Audiology: An African Perspective”, in line with the South African re-engineered primary healthcare strategy; aims to provide evidence-based perspectives grounded in an African context on preventive audiology, with a specific focus on primary and secondary prevention in audiology; with research covering the following areas: 1) recent advances in early detection assessment measures across the lifespan (early hearing detection and intervention- EHDI; occupational noise induced hearing loss -ONIHL; ototoxicity, vestibulotoxicity, etc.); 2) audiological monitoring: ototoxicity and/or vestibulotoxicity; 3) audiological intervention within preventive care; 4) barriers and/or facilitators to preventive audiology; 5) contextual factors influencing implementation of preventive audiology; 6) monitoring and evaluation factors in preventive audiology; 7) policy and legislation in the implementation of preventive audiology strategies; and 8) preventive audiology in culturally and linguistically diverse contexts.

Professor Katijah Khoza-Shangase
Tel: 011 717 4565