School of Social Sciences

UKZN Social Sciences Academic Awarded University of Oxford Fellowship

Professor Kalpana Hiralal at the University of Oxford.
Professor Kalpana Hiralal at the University of Oxford.

Professor Kalpana Hiralal of UKZN’s Department of Historical Studies has been awarded the AfOx Senior Fellowship by the University of Oxford in England.

Hiralal is currently in Oxford taking up the Fellowship and will return to Durban in July.

The AfOx Visiting Fellows Programme is designed to enhance academic mobility and network building with scholars in Africa. As an AfOx Fellow, Hiralal will be affiliated with the African Studies Centre, the Oxford Department of International Development (ODID), and Wolfson College.

She will have access to various colleges, archives, and the world-famous Bodleian Library (one of the oldest libraries in Europe) and the Weston Library which has valuable material on the anti-apartheid struggle. Whilst at Oxford, Hiralal’s research will focus on The Struggle for Gender Equality on South Africa’s Road to Democracy during which she will present her findings at seminars, workshops, and conferences.

Hiralal says her experience thus far at Oxford has been simply amazing – it is in many ways a dream come true! ‘It is a fantastic environment for academics and scholars and world-class research is being done there. Oxford is so steeped in history, it is as if you are walking in history. The architecture of the buildings is breath-taking, in particular the Bodleian Library, Christ Church and the Keble, Magdalen and Trinity Colleges,’ said Hiralal. ‘The city is stunningly beautiful, there are museums, including the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology, theatres, restaurants, coffee shops, markets, the Botanic Gardens, rivers and canals.’

She has met several scholars, academics, and post-graduate students since her arrival.

An NRF-rated researcher, Hiralal’s two key areas of interest – Gender and South Asian Diaspora and Gender and Resistance in South Africa – have significant international and local import and have led to collaborative projects with a variety of international projects and universities.

Her previous international Fellowships include Nordic Africa Institute (NAI) Guest Researcher (Sweden 2007); School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in the United Kingdom in 2015, and the Erasmus Mundus Inspire Scholarship at the University of Valladolid in Spain in 2017.

Whilst at Oxford, Hiralal – in collaboration with the India-Oxford Initiative (IndOx) and ODID – will launch her upcoming book Sisters in the Struggle (UNISA Press, 2021), a three-volume book, which covers about 100 years and documents the lives of 61 women of Indian origin and their contributions to the liberation struggle in South Africa.

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