The Bloomsbury Colleges | PhD Studentships | Studentships 2011 | Gender violence and adult learning in post-apartheid South Africa
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Gender Violence And Adult Learning In Post-Apartheid South Africa

Lead Supervisor: Jenny Parkes (IoE)

Co-supervisors: Jasmine Gideon (Bbk), Elaine Unterhalter (IoE)

Periods of war and conflict have been associated with increased rates of violence against women and girls, and often high levels of gender-based violence (GBV) persist in the aftermath. For societies making the transition from repressive to democratic regimes, the time of renewal offers the potential to transform patterns of discrimination, especially in relation to gender which can be rendered invisible during times of conflict.  But this orientation to move to the future is often in tension with concerns to conserve and reclaim elements from the past, including gender norms which confine women to the domestic sphere.  There is a clear imperative to examine and reflect on longer term processes associated with these educative moments in order to address gender-based violence in societies grappling with transitions from conflict and to more fully appreciate what is at stake for women’s movements strategising about action in these contexts.

This study will explore such initiatives through focusing on the case of South Africa.  The PhD studentship aims to examine and reflect on how gender-based violence has been addressed through adult education initiatives in South Africa in the period of transition from apartheid to democratic government.  The research has the following objectives:

  • To examine and assess the history of adult education projects on gender-based violence in South Africa since c.1989.  
  • To understand through case study research how adult training programmes have addressed gender and violence, the institutional changes they have been able to effect, and the consequences for the lives of participants – trainers and trainees, and women and men.
  • To consider the implications of this history for contemporary challenges associated with gender and violence facing societies grappling with transition from conflict.

The methodology will include three phases: a literature review; case studies of selected programmes using life history interviews; and data analysis, writing and dissemination in South Africa and the UK.

The candidate is required to have an excellent academic track record,  with an undergraduate degree in arts, humanities or social sciences, an MA in a relevant area, and demonstrated interest and experience in gender, adult education and international development.  The studentship will entail a period of six months fieldwork in South Africa.

The PhD student will participate in the doctoral training programmes at IoE and Birkbeck, and will in addition benefit from research exchange and training opportunities within the London International Development Centre (LIDC) and the Bloomsbury Gender Network (BGN).

Key References:

  1. Goetz, A. M. & Hassim, S. (Eds) (2003) No Shortcuts to Power: African Women in Politics and Policy Making. London, Zed Books.
  2. Hassim, S. (2005) Voices, hierarchies and spaces: Reconfiguring the women’s movement in Democratic South Africa. Politikon, 32, 2, 175-193.
  3. Morrell, R., Epstein, D., Unterhalter, E., Bhana, D. and Moletsane, R. (2009) Towards Gender Equality: South African Schools During the HIV and AIDS Epidemic. Durban: University of KwaZulu-Natal Press
  4. Waylen, G. (2007) Engendering transitions Oxford: Oxford University Press

Further details about the project may be obtained from:

Lead Supervisor: Jenny Parkes,,

Co-Supervisors: Jasmine Gideon,; Elaine Unterhalter,,

Further information about PhDs at the Institute of Education is available from:

Application forms and details about how to apply are available from:

Institute of Education
20 Bedford Way
London WC1H

Contact Patricia Kelly ( or +44 (0) 207-612-6122

Departmental/School PhD Administrator Neal Carr; or +44 (0) 207-612-6632

With your application, please provide:

Academic transcripts, CV, and a full statement explaining how prior study, work experiences and range of interests have provided a suitable background to take on this study.

When applying, please indicate where you found out about this studentship (please state the publication title/ web address).

Closing date for applications: This studentship is now closed.