The Research Team

Emily Bridger is the project’s Principal Investigator. She is an Associate Professor in History at the University of Exeter. A social and cultural historian of modern South Africa, she specialises in histories of gender, violence, and memory during the apartheid and post-apartheid periods. She is the author of Young Women against Apartheid: Gender, Youth and South Africa’s Liberation Struggle (James Currey, 2021). Her other research has been published in the Journal of Southern African Studies, the Journal of Global History, and Gender & History.

Erin Hazan is currently working part-time on the project as a Postgraduate Research Associate, focusing on archival research. Erin is a PhD student in History at the University of the Witwatersrand, and a graduate of the MSc African Studies programme at the University of Oxford. With a keen interest in South African women’s history and gender studies, she has conducted historical research into the gendered nature of imprisonment, evidenced by the former Women’s Jail’s treatment of female political prisoners in the 1970s, as well as the first in-depth analysis of the 1927 Immorality Act in terms of its gendered composition and implementation. Erin is continuing her earlier research into gendered imprisonment as part of her PhD.

Kefuoe Makena is currently working part-time as a Postgraduate Research Associate on the project, organising and conducting oral history interviews. Kefuoe has recently completed her Masters by Research at the University of the Witwatersrand. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in History and Political Studies and Honours degree in History, both from Wits. Her Masters research explores the history of non-violent and violent protest in Bethanie North West Province. Her wider research interests include violence and protest, politics of belonging, labour and unemployment, and everyday forms of subaltern resistance.

Babalwa Tyabashe-Phume works on the project as a Research Associate, running a case study in collaboration with the Cape Town domestic violence charity MOSAIC. She is currently conducting oral history interviews with former users of MOSAIC’s support services. Babalwa is a researcher and mental health practitioner with a PhD in Psychiatry and Mental Health and Master’s in Social Work. Over the years, she has worked as a social worker, a research assistant, and a research project manager. Her research experience is in the areas of social work, mental health, intellectual and developmental disabilities, and childcare.  She is a skilled social worker with a demonstrated ability to provide outstanding psychosocial support and guidance to children, youth, women, and families. 

Project Partners

MOSAIC: A Cape Town-based domestic violence charity, MOSAIC works to prevent and reduce abuse and domestic violence by providing holistic, integrated services of the healing and empowerment of women through support services and access to justice and training. Since 2023, MOSAIC have been collaborating with the Hidden War project to conduct oral history interviews with their former service users. These interviews will be used to explore women’s own narratives of the violence they’ve experienced and to better understand when and why women report violence and what support services they need at which points in their lives.

The Khulumani Support Group, East Rand: Since 2020, the project has been working with the East Rand branch of the Khulumani Support Group. With their collaboration, we have conducted 60 oral history interviews with women who belong to the organisation, and in October 2020 ran an ‘art and memory’ workshop with twelve of these women. The project works closely with two of Khulumani’s board members in particular:

Nomarussia Bonase is a South African human rights activist and community organizer, committed to the rights of women who suffered apartheid in South Africa. Her work builds upon her long history of grass-roots activism, as a trade union shop steward and mobilising communities in the East Rand. Today she serves as National Coordinator of  the organisation Khulumani (“we speak out”), a group launched in 1995 by women who were victims and survivors of apartheid human rights violations.

Judy Seidman has worked from the early 1970s in Southern Africa, as a visual artist within South Africa’s liberation struggle.  She now lives in Johannesburg, as a freelance artist, and facilitates art-making workshops with Khulumani (“We speak out”) and the feminist group One-in-Nine Campaign.

Advisory Board

Srila Roy is associate professor of sociology and head of development studies at the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa. She is the author of Remembering Revolution: Gender, Violence and Subjectivity in India’s Naxalbari Movement (Oxford, 2012), editor of New South Asian Feminisms (Zed, 2012) and co-editor of New Subaltern Politics: Reconceptualising Hegemony and Resistance in Contemporary India (Oxford 2015). She leads the Andrew W. Mellon funded Governing Intimacies project, which promotes new scholarship on gender and sexuality in Southern Africa and India. 

Elizabeth Thornberry is an Assistant Professor in History at John Hopkins University. Her research explores the history of gender, sexuality, and law in Southern Africa. She is the author of Colonizing Consent: Rape and Governance in South Africa’s Eastern Cape (Cambridge, 2018), which explores the social history of sexual violence and the links between sexual and political authority in the Eastern Cape from the precolonial to segregationist eras.

Chandré Gould is a senior research fellow in the Justice and Violence Prevention Programme at the Institute for Security Studies (ISS). Since 2006 her work has focused on violence prevention and criminal justice in South Africa. She was the editor of the peer -reviewed journal South African Crime Quarterly for ten years, until 2017, and is the author of Beaten Bad: the life stories of violent offenders (Institute for Security Studies, 2016). Since 2008 she has played a leading role in a community-based organization, the Seven Passes Initiative, that works to prevent violence through providing after-school programs, youth development programs and parenting programs. She convenes the Violence Prevention Forum in South Africa, which brings together government departments, academics, NGOs and other stakeholders in a long-term process that aims to inform and support the scale-up of evidence-based violence prevention programs nationally. Gould is the author of numerous books, monographs and articles on subjects ranging from biological weapons control to human trafficking and crime and violence prevention.

Nwabisa Shai is a Specialist Scientist in the Gender and Health Research Unit at the South African Medical Research Council based in Johannesburg, South Africa. She has extensive experience in gender based violence (GBV) and HIV qualitative and quantitative research, and design, adaptations and evaluations of GBV and HIV prevention interventions in low- and middle-income countries, most recently in rural Nepal, rural Tajikistan and eThekwini informal settlements, South Africa. Nwabisa has a special research interest in understanding how femininity constructions shape women’s vulnerability to GBV and HIV in South Africa. She has co-authored peer-reviewed journal articles, book chapters, policy briefs and technical reports, and GBV prevention curricula from multiple sociocultural contexts including South Africa, Tajikistan and Nepal. Nwabisa also works closely with the Solidarity Fund, a COVID-19 relief mechanism, to develop GBV strategies to sustain programme and service provision in the country. She is a driver group member of the Violence Prevention Forum promoting evidence based programmes and was part of the committee that delivered South Africa’s first National Strategic Plan on GBV and Femicide in 2020.