Research

Currently I am engaged in two major interconnected research projects. First, I have been co-commissioned by Rowman & Littlefield to co-edit a text on Feminist Phenomenology. It will be completed in 2018. Second, I was one of the principle researchers for Siyahluma, a community-based, NGO funded health project aimed at changing the perception surrounding menstruation and women’s bodies in rural Eastern Cape communities in South Africa. Siyahluma provides both concrete resources (locally-sourced reusable menstrual hygiene kits) and educational resources about menstruation to girls, women, and the broader community. One of the most important reasons for this, in the context of the Eastern Cape and particularly among Xhosa people, is the association made between menstruation and sexuality and its linkage with HIV. Moreover, the negative (universal and culturally-specific) symbolic associations made with menstruation—menstruating women are seen as dirty, impure, and contaminated—further compounds the problems that result from a lack of resources and information regarding menstruation. Therefore, menstruation is typically poorly understood and causes girls and women to feel shame about their bodies—an insight brilliantly unpacked by Simone de Beauvoir and explored in my current work on the effects of race and class on our constructions and understandings of the body.