College of Humanities Boasts Top Performing Researchers 2016
Five academics from the College of Humanities were ranked amongst UKZN’s Top 30 researchers for 2016 while four students from the same College were recognised for being amongst the Top 10 published students. The top researchers are: Emeritus Professors Christopher Ballantine, Damtew Teferra Maheshvari Naidu, Deevia Bhana and Vimolan Mudaly
Top published students were Mr Ken Dennis Chisa, Mr Robyn Duncan Wilkinson, Mr Osweiled Ureke and Mr Nathan Adam Esala.
Ballantine’s work is widely published in international and local journals and books; it explores the meanings and social implications of music, and the forces that shape it. In particular, he has written about the music of the last 100 years, the philosophy and sociology of music, and South African music.
His recent publications have shown how music can challenge essentialised or exclusionary ideas about ‘race’, and can help in the shaping of progressive post-apartheid identities.
Academic Leader: Research in School of Social Sciences Professor Maheshvari Naidu described this achievement as a wonderful opportunity to showcase the critically positioned research and researchers emanating from the Humanities and from social science scholars.
Her field of research is social anthropology but her work straddles across many cognate disciplines in the social sciences. She said, ‘My research and published work is likewise a reflection of this multi-disciplinary focus’.
Naidu iterated that UKZN is both a teaching intensive and research driven institute. Naidu said, writing and publishing is not an end in itself but should stem from an authentic belief that one has something meaningful to share.
She believes Humanities and Social Science research has much to contribute to both discourse and praxis in the context of human rights, social cohesion and civic justice. Much of her work is qualitative and her research endeavours to offer a human face to global issues and complexities.
Prof Vimolan Mudaly of the School of Education, says he is grateful to the many people who served as catalysts in motivating him to write. ‘There are few opportunities that are presented to us and we need to grab them. I am under no allusions about appearing on the list. There are wonderful teachers that are not recognised and to them in, particular I, offer my utmost respect.’
Mudaly realised that research and teaching are fundamental to a life at university and sees that there is a need to blend these two together.
He conducts research that relates to improving the understanding of mathematics, both at schools and at universities. Unlike other research in the humanities, research in his field could provide a better platform for teachers to engage with learners and students in ways that can make mathematics more meaningful.
Mudaly said, ‘I specifically work in the area of mathematics proof and proving, especially through spatial understanding, and I look at metacognitive factors that teachers could engage with before, during and after teaching. All of these research areas fall within the broad category of visualisation.’
The top published student Mr Osweiled Ureke from the School of Applied Human Sciences, says he feel very happy about his achievement. He said; ‘I am happy for myself and for my PhD supervisors, Professors Ruth Teer-Tomaselli and Keyan Tomaselli (CCMS) because they always believed in my ability to publish widely.’
Ureke’s PhD thesis is on film. He contextualises it to the Zimbabwean scenario, and has a developed interest in new media research as well as media production. ‘I like research that attempts to tackle issues from a practical perspective and offer solutions that society can benefit from on a day to day basis. Research is a subject for life.’
He added that being ranked amongst UKZN’s 2016 Top published students, gives him confidence to continue working hard. ‘If one stays focused, there is a lot that one can achieve in academia,’ advises Ureke.