Social Work PhD Student Part of Bergen Summer Research School
PhD student in Social Work Ms Thobeka Ntini was thrilled to be part of the Bergen Summer Research School (BSRS) in Norway. As an emerging academic, Ntini sees spaces like BSRS as an opportunity for students and junior researchers to hear feedback from researchers and esteemed scholars from different socio-cultural and economic backgrounds, as well as disciplines.
‘Having the diversity of perspectives and some of the best international practitioners in the field of social sciences, all in one room, can stimulate wider thinking that really breaks the boxed thinking of what one is used to – in a sense, you realise your common knowledge is not so common,’ she said.
The programme included lectures, keynote addresses and PhD student presentations. Ntini also enjoyed a guided excursion into the waterscape of western Norway, exploring how the many forms of water have shaped society and created unique landscapes in that part of the country.
‘Besides my enthusiasm for meeting new people and exchanging ideas, I got involved hoping to develop my analytic expertise in relation to research processes and practices. Since my PhD is in its first year, I trust that the conversations with other researchers, and content offered during this course will have substantial benefit for grounding my work,’ said Ntini.
Her research focuses on the institution of domestic work using the lenses of post-structural feminist perspective. The study attempts to unravel dynamics of power and its nuances in the relation between domestic workers and domestic worker employers in the contemporary South Africa.
It strives to break out of the parameters of dominant narratives within the institution of domestic work with the hope of allowing multiple and possibly contradicting truths that lead to more nuanced discussions of power, both as oppressive and limiting in some aspects but also protective in other ways.
Ntini learned more about migration processes and ethical considerations when doing research with immigrants and refugees. ‘The institution of domestic work is underpinned by migration processes both internal and external, we are seeing a lot more immigrants being hired as domestic workers in South Africa, and that is setting a fairly new trend for domestic labour sector in our context that presents its own challenges,’ she explained.
Ntini is passionate about academia. She spent the past two years abroad (Portugal, Norway, Sweden and Uganda) completing her second masters in an Erasmus Mundus programme on Social Work with Families and Children.
‘Through that programme, I have made lifelong and meaningful relationships with people from more than 10 countries. Similar to the BSRS, I believe it will offer me with a chance to build relations that cross borders and create networks for future collaborative work even post the doctoral studies,’ she added.
Her advice to students is ‘Applying for an opportunity starts way before you fill-in the actual application form, meaning that preparation meets opportunity. Give yourself time to search for scholarships, bursaries and send emails for enquiries. Drafting proposals and motivational letters is all hard work that begins before submitting the application. Opportunities do not miraculously land on your lap, you have to jump high enough to grab them – the decision to jump lies with you.’
Words: Melissa Mungroo