Cape Town, South Africa
Professor Joy Owen's research explores the social networks of South African transnational migrants.

Image credit: Shutterstock

Migration expert is new Global South visiting professor

TORCH (The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities) will welcome Professor Joy Owen as its Global South-Mellon Visiting Professor 2018-2019.

Professor Owen is Head of Department and Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of the Free State, Bloemfontein in South Africa. Prior to her employment at the UFS, she was Head of Department (Anthropology) and Deputy Dean of Humanities at Rhodes University, Grahamstown.

Professor Owen's research currently explores the social networks of South African transnational migrants who have migrated to Germany, Australia and New Zealand. In the process of doing so she is considering the importance of social and cultural capitals to the ‘successful’ migration of South Africans to these three countries. Her sojourn in Germany in 2016 gave her first-hand experience of transnational migration and the difficulties inherent in ‘connecting’ with those who are nationally different. Over the next few years, she will explore these three sites more specifically through direct participation and observation.

During the period of her visiting fellowship at Oxford, Professor Owen plans to focus on two strands of research that are related to each other. The first originates within her doctoral research on Congolese transmigrants in Cape Town, South Africa. The second arises from her interest in the South African ‘diaspora’ present in New Zealand and Australia. Her knowledge and expertise are a timely contribution to work that is ongoing to make curricula and conversations at Oxford more inclusive.

Professor Owen said: ‘I am pleased to be joining TORCH and working with both Wale Adebanwi and the African Studies Centre at this exciting time, and for my research to be so warmly received by colleagues in the humanities at Oxford. I am looking forward to teaching and engaging with students and sharing ideas and perspectives on research, racialised identities and migration.’

Professor Wale Adebanwi, Director of the African Studies Centre and Rhodes Professor of Race Relations at the University of Oxford, said: ‘Joy is a wonderful addition to TORCH and the Faculty of Anthropology. Her research has been influential and pioneering and throws light on important topics such as transnational migrations. Joy will mentor students, lead open events in collaboration with the African Studies Centre and the Africa-Oxford Initiative, and contribute to Oxford in a number of other ways while she is with us.’

Professor Owen will be based at TORCH and St Anne's College during Trinity Term. Her works include the monograph Congolese Social Networks: Living on the Margins in Muizenberg, Cape Town (Lexington Books: 2015), and articles such as “Xenophilia in Cape Town, South Africa: New Potentials for Race Relations?” in City and Society Vol 28.3 (2016), “Transnationalism as Process, Diaspora as Condition” in Journal of Social Development in Africa Vol 30.1 (2015). Her most recent publications are “Humanising the Congolese Other: Love, Research and Reflexivity in Muizenberg, South Africa”, published in R. Boswell and F. Nyamnjoh (eds.), Postocolonial South-African Anthropologies, in 2017, and “Sade – By your Side” published in Suomen Antropologi: Journal of the Finnish Anthropological Society Vol 43.2 (2018).

The TORCH Global South Visiting Professorships Programme is designed to bring world-leading figures to the University of Oxford for at least one term and to be included in the teaching and research environment, hosted by leading academics in the humanities. Funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the programme is a collaboration between the faculties of Oxford's Humanities Division and the colleges of the University of Oxford.