WIReDSpace

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Recent Submissions

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Diasporic Landscape: A Geosemiotic Analysis of Greekness in Johannesburg
(University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, 2023-03) Vratsanos, Alyssa Vida Castrillon; Baro, Gilles
After a number of waves of immigration of Greeks from Greece, Cyprus, and the established Greek diaspora in Egypt, South Africa is home to a sizable Greek community – concentrated in Johannesburg – that has established its own cultural identity in the country and left indelible traces of Greekness in the semiotic landscape of the city. In this dissertation, I explore the discursive, multimodal processes employed to inscribe Greekness – the quality of being of Greek heritage – in the city of Johannesburg. The overarching aim of this study was to analyse how members of the Greek diaspora in Johannesburg negotiate and perform their Greek identity and how Greekness is inscribed in various spaces in the city. In particular, it aimed to answer the following research questions: (i) How are certain spaces in the city of Johannesburg materially constructed as Greek spaces?; (ii) How is Greekness semiotically constructed?; and (iii) How is this constructed Greekness experienced by social actors, in the context of a European diasporic community in Johannesburg, a city in the Global South?. Empirically, this linguistic/semiotic landscape study made use of multimodal data, in the form of ethnographic field notes, photographs of signs, interviews, and newspaper articles, which were analysed within Scollon and Scollon’s (2003) geosemiotics framework. Previous works by McDuling (2014) and McDuling and Barnes (2012) have examined the Greek diaspora in Johannesburg from a sociolinguistic perspective, with a focus on language shift and maintenance. This study differs significantly in approach, shifting the focus from language use to an analysis of the signs used to assert and inscribe Greekness in Johannesburg, thereby drawing this subject matter into a linguistic landscape study of the diaspora In the empirical chapters of the dissertation, I used geosemiotics as a methodological toolkit to analyse several themes that arose from my data. First, I analysed the role food plays in inscribing Greekness in Johannesburg through an analysis of the Greek foodscapes in the city, such as Greek restaurants and supermarkets, as well as the food-centric elements used in other Greek spaces to communicate Greekness. I then introduced the concept of syncretism as a term that can be applied in a semiotic sense, to describe the ways in which signs and symbols from various, sometimes incompatible, aspects of Greek history and identity are deliberately displayed side-by-side in a space and operate in aggregate to communicate homogeneous and ‘authentic’ Greekness. Finally, I took a ‘semiotic approach’ (Van Leeuwen, 2001) to authenticity and analysed how authenticity in the Greek diaspora is semiotically constructed both visually and aurally in Greek spaces in Johannesburg. This study argues that the Greek diaspora in Johannesburg seeks to construct spaces in the city as recognisably and undeniably Greek, deliberately distinguishing themselves from the rest of the city, including other South Africans and other diasporas, by using a constellation of multimodal and multisensorial signs to convey a sense of homogeneous Greekness. The types of signs that are used to inscribe Greekness are all linked to the desirability – and by extension superiority – of Greek culture, heritage, and history. Thus, the ways in which Greekness is inscribed by the diaspora in Johannesburg rely on a process of self-exoticism (cf. Iwabuchi, 1994).
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Wartime Rape, Gender, and Militarism: The Bukavu People’s Conceptualisation of the Emergence of Wartime Rape in the 2004 Kivu Conflict in Contrast to the 1996 First Congo War
(University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, 2023-03-15) Mushagalusa, Alice Karhikalembu; Stevens, Garth; Von Holdt, Karl
For more than a decade, armed conflicts in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have been characterised by widespread wartime rape against civilians. The purposeful utilisation of wartime rape as a weapon of war has owed to the country unflattering labels, such as the “rape capital of the world, the worst place to be a woman, or again the dark hole”. The armed unrest in the DRC is rooted in the Belgian colonisation’s land administration policies that shaped some groups as native (autochthones) while constructing others as foreigners. Following an anti-war feminist perspective, this PhD explores the Bukavu people’s conceptualisation of the emergence of wartime rape in the 2004 Kivu Conflict in contrast to the 1996 First Congo War. I used participatory research methods, as dictated by the Covid-19 pandemic, to collect the data through focus groups and in-depth individual interviews with ordinary community members, former military officers, members of the civil society and community leaders in Bukavu (South Kivu Province, eastern DRC). The collected data made it possible to firstly recognise the absence of wartime rape as a weapon of war in the 1996 First Congo War; and to show that wartime rape has not always been ubiquitous in the DRC but became a lexicon that the perpetrators utilised to place divergent claims related to their customary land, military, political power ambitions, gendered ethnic identity, and citizenship aspirations. Secondly, the data allowed for disaggregating wartime rape into three categories based on the perpetrators’ motivations and claims. The thesis maintains that the Hutu-dominated Interahamwe militia, also recognised as the main authors of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, resorted to rape in the eastern DRC for revenge and to (re)masculinise their troops while feminising the Congolese state. Next, this study demonstrates that the Rally for Congolese Democracy rebels, which claimed the Tutsi Congolese ethnicity, strategically resorted to wartime rape to claim customary land rights and citizenship recognition. Following, this thesis puts forward that the Mai-Mai militia, seen as native, erpetrated wartime rape to claim military respect and recognition while furthering the political agendas of their patrons. I maintain that patriarchy – as the shared norm between the perpetrators, the state and the victims (women, girls, men and boys) – makes it possible for wartime rape to be utilised as a lexicon and a destructive weapon against the victims’ sexual subjectivities and the whole community’s symbolic order. Hence, this study articulates a three-fold argument. This thesis firstly argues that the 2004 wartime rape is rooted in the Belgian colonisation and its lingering effects on forms of ethnicity, gender, land distribution and recognition of political rights in the present. Next, this thesis argues that wartime rape is a strategic weapon perpetrators utilise for revenge and to claim military recognition. Lastly, this study argues that the extreme violence of rape as an act of war aims to destroy the victims’ subjectivities and their community’s symbolic order. As such, this thesis weaves together three levels of analysis and examines wartime rape as multi-dimensional violence that interlaces into one act of wartime rape: the historical dimension (centring on land), the broader strategic considerations, and the destruction of victims’ subjectivities and the community’s symbolic order. At the same time, the combination of these dimensions varies considerably between the Hutu-dominated Interahamwe militia, the Rally for Congolese Democracy rebels, and the Mai-Mai militias – that is, the context even in one province within DRC produces variations in motive and form.
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First-year psychology students' understanding of traditional healing and treatment of mental illness
(University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, 2022-07) Mkansi, Akani Patience; Human, Leonie
Mental illness has shown high prevalence in local South African communities, however, the lack of knowledge and understanding of mental illness has an impact on the treatments that patients choose. Research shows that most individuals understand mental illness and define mental illness somatically and as resulting from biological causes (Memon et al., 2016), whereas there are other reasons for developing mental illness. Although patients consult psychologists and psychiatrists there is still a high number of individuals that consult traditional healers for the treatment of mental disorders (Zingela, 2019). Culture, beliefs, and the value placed on traditional healers results in continued consultation with traditional healers. A shared understanding of culture can help address barriers related to resistance due help-seeking behaviour (Zhou et al., 2021). The objective of the study is to explore first-year psychology students' understanding of mental illness and treatments. The data was collected using phenomenological interviews with ten first year psychology students registered with the University of the Witwatersrand, aged 18 and above. Semi-structured and open-ended interviews were conducted virtually using the Zoom meeting platform and lasted about 45 minutes to one hour. The data was analysed using thematic content analysis. The following themes were identified from the collected data: (1) understanding of mental illness (2) Healing of mental illness (3) role of traditional healers (4) reasons for consulting with traditional healer (5) The role of indigenous South African Cultural Understanding of mental illness (6) African cosmology and mental illness (7) challenges to understanding mental illness. The results presented various understandings of mental illness and treatments. Participants have identified culture, beliefs and several challenges as having an impact on access to mental healthcare services, therefore, it is noteworthy to have future interventions that consider a culturally accommodative and comprehensive framework for understanding mental illness.
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The audiological profile of singers’ and musicians’ in South Africa
(University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, 2023-03) Flowers, Aimee Lee; Pillay, Dhanashree
Introduction: Excessive exposure to loud music is shown to have a negative impact on hearing, necessitating studies that explore the impact of music on the audiological profile of musicians and singers. The tonotopic arrangement of the cochlea plays an important role in the perception of music. Audiological testing can provide insight into the functioning of the auditory system of musicians and singers and it can provide information about the possible noise/music induced impact of music on the auditory system. The rationale for this study was to fill in the gaps in knowledge pertaining to the effects of noise/music induced hearing loss on musicians and singers in South Africa. Methodology: The study aimed to document the audiological profile of musicians and singers in South Africa. The participants were recruited using purposive and snowball sampling. The study consisted of 57 participants. The age range was 13 years to 75 years of age. The design of the study was exploratory and data were collected via a case history questionnaire and a diagnostic audiological investigation. The data were analysed using qualitative and quantitative analyses. Results: Music induced hearing loss (MIHL) is present among musicians and singers however, age and years of experience are influential factors in this result. The results of the current study indicated that 88% of the participants did not use HPDs for various reasons such as stigma or lack of awareness. Participants showed knowledge related to ear cleaning and high noise levels, however, there was a lack of insight into the importance and good ear hygiene practices. Fifty-one participants indicated that there is a need for the implementation of programs to inform the general public about good ear hygiene. The results of the diagnostic audiological testing indicated age was a significant factor in relation to pure tone thresholds and distortion product otoacoustic emissions(DPOAEs). Noise notches were evident at 3000Hz and 6000Hz and correlated with both the pure tone threshold and DPOAE results. The DPOAE results indicated that being a professional singer was also a significant factor. Conclusion: The current study highlights the effects of music on the auditory system. The effects of music can be detrimental to a musician and singer’s hearing, and the incorrect ear care can have devastating effects for performers. Therefore, the need for the implementation of programs to educate musicians and singers about ear hygiene, the correct ear hygiene practices and the effects of music on the audiological system as well as the correct way to mitigate these effects is imperative.
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Engaging with Immigrant Adolescent Learners to Co-construct an Acculturation Strategy for Integration in South African Schools
(University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, 2023-03) Mabvira, Agrippa; Masinga, Poppy; Pillay, Roshini
Immigrant adolescent learners have a dual task of acculturating into new society whilst adjusting to normative age-related psychological, social and biological developments. Hence, a theory-driven, and evidence-based acculturation strategy for integration is imperative in aiding immigrant adolescents as they navigate through the simultaneous occurrence of developmental milestones with acculturation related tasks. In this study, I aimed to explore the affordances and challenges faced by immigrant adolescent learners during their process of acculturation and use the findings to co-construct an acculturation strategy for integration. The paradigm of this intervention study is critical realism. The two theoretical frameworks that I used to underpin this study are the human capabilities approach and acculturation theory. This qualitative study used participatory action research, to ensure active involvement of twelve (12) immigrant adolescent learners as co-researchers. I used purposive sampling strategy to recruit participants from three public schools in the Mthatha Township, Eastern Cape Province, South Africa (SA). Data was collected through photovoice and focus group discussions. I then analysed the data using thematic data analysis which yielded a synthesis of affordances and challenges to acculturation. Findings of this study offered rich and thick descriptions of co-researchers’ perspectives on how to foster successful acculturation and integration. Main findings include that language proficiency is a key determinant factor of acculturation outcomes. Hence, co-researchers recommended language support and immersion programmes. Moreover, discrimination by peers, educators, and community members emerged as a major impediment to integration. To address the problem of discrimination, this study recommends a culturally responsive curriculum in schools, intercultural training for educators and awareness campaigns that should focus on attitudinal change for communities. Another significant output of this study are recommendations given to various stakeholders who are key to an acculturation strategy for the integration of immigrant adolescent learners in SA schools. Moreover, supported by critical realism, the study calls for broader multiculturalism and diversity education to facilitate the integration of immigrant adolescent learners.