Welcome to the Anthropology Department
Welcome to the University of the Western Cape

Research on Men & Masculinities

This research platform is dedicated to the study of men and masculinities in African settings. The key focus is understanding men’s experiences in society, their constructions of masculinity, and the socio-economic circumstances that they face. We are interested in understanding what it means to be a man in Africa today; how masculinities are lived, contested and transform through time; how men’s behaviour and choices are shaped by particular circumstances and historical conjunctures. To answer these questions we conduct in-depth ethnographic studies and attempt to develop grounded theories of men and masculinities from the African continent. Our research team explores matters related to gender, masculinities, sexuality, health, violence, and fatherhood.

Our department offers students a strong training in gender, masculinity and sexuality, both at the postgraduate and at the undergraduate level, through semester-long modules. The modules cover contemporary theories, concepts, and methodological approaches to the study of gender, men and masculinities, and engage with complex and sensitive topics, in the attempt to understand people’s everyday realities.

In 2018 our research project received funding from the National Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences (NHISS) to establish a “Working Group on African Masculinities”. This project, which is jointly led by Prof Sakhumzi Mfecane and Dr Mpumi Zungu, Research Director from Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), brings together emerging South African scholars who are working on topics related to men, health and the construction of masculinities. Our aim is to facilitate intellectual engagements between scholars, across institutions, and promote collaborative research and publications. From this year (2018) we will hold regular workshops, symposiums and seminars which will focus on developing African-centred scholarship on masculinities.


Our work is premised on the fact that there is dearth of black African scholars researching on masculinities and this is an issue that needs to be addressed as an urgent matter. Research on men and masculinities in South Africa has grown remarkably in the past decades and includes contributions from various disciplines. Yet, most African scholars rely largely on theories of gender developed in the Global North. In such regard, our research project wishes to address this perennial problem of “academic dependency” and the unequal “division of labour” in the academy. The programme aims at generating theories and knowledge that are African-centred and will allow for relevant interventions in African settings. In so doing, we hope to form and nurture a future generation of African scholars and to encourage the production of innovative, alternative understandings of masculinities in Africa.


Contact Person: Sakhumzi Mfecane (mfecane@uwc.ac.za)