GCRO's young researcher publishes in the number one journal in human geography

  • Date of publication: 04 May 2023

In March 2023, the prestigious journal Progress in Human Geography published an article co-authored by GCRO junior researcher Sthembiso Pollen Mkhize. The article is entitled "Unpacking pervasive heteronormativity in sub-Saharan Africa: Opportunities to embrace multiplicity of sexualities" and is co-authored with Anele Mthembu from EThekwini Municipality.

The abstract of the article is as follows:

This article provides a critical review of research on geographies of sexuality and acknowledges how sexual identities are constructed through an intersection of multiple dimensions in the sub-Saharan Africa region. Although the region is experiencing a gradually changing landscape regarding the rights of queer people, ongoing discriminatory practices attached to heteronormativity suppress the expression of non-normative sexual identities. Upon exploration of queer theory and a review of literature on the challenges facing queer people, this article argues for reimagining an African society that embraces a multiplicity of sexualities. It also advocates for tackling hetero- and binary-defined norms by presenting counterarguments and scenarios that demonstrate the significance of deconstructive and non-binary approaches towards sexuality and space in sub-Saharan Africa.

Renowned experts in the field of human geography in South Africa, Dr Richard Ballard (GCRO) and Dr Ndumiso Ngidi (University of KwaZulu-Natal) were thrilled to see Sthembiso, as a very young researcher, have this huge achievement at his tender and infant age in research. Both expressed their congratulations and Dr Ngidi noted: "This is a BIG journal and very difficult to impress". In addition, Professor Nina Laurie, who was the editor for the paper but had to step down in January 2023 after five years on the journal's editorial board, gracefully noted that: "it is a source of great satisfaction to me that this paper is the one that marks my bowing out - I have valued accompanying you all in this journey".

Sthembiso has published over five journal articles, but he regards this achievement as his greatest accomplishment ever since he began his research career at the GCRO in 2019. Sthembiso plans to do his PhD in the field of human geography and hopes that this achievement will open more doors for him in future.


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