My name is Matthew and I am currently a PhD researcher at the University of Sussex in Brighton, UK. I’m based in the School of Media, Film and Music, but my research spans cultural studies, gender studies, and anthropology.
I was born and grew up in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa. I’ve been privileged enough to have been given an excellent education, and in and through my research and work I try to remain committed to the advancement of education, the celebration of educators, and the promotion of social reconciliation. I studied my Bachelor’s of Social Science at the University of KwaZulu Natal (UKZN) with majors in Media and Cultural Studies and English. Upon receiving a Mandela Rhodes Scholarship I pursued my Honours Degree (postgrad) at UKZN, with a focus on Cultural and Gender Studies. On the Commonwealth Scholarship I undertook a MA in Gender and Media (taught) at the University of Sussex, and then returned to South Africa to work and pursue a MA (research) in English/Cultural Studies. After a period of lecturing and serving on the Board of Directors for a non-profit company, The Mandela Rhodes Community, I secured funding to pursue PhD research at the University of Sussex.
The focus of my research, as this site explores, is prejudice and belonging in a global context. I am focusing specifically on South Africa, but the attitudes and experiences found there are by no means exclusive. Intolerance and ignorance shaped my own personal narrative, but I was privileged enough to come from a context which allowed me to gain visibility and express my own voice. This opportunity is not afforded to all, and so I hope that my research will play a role in changing this – even if for a few.
I am passionate about teaching. I love lecturing, and should I ever be offered the position of a lecturer I would find myself in my dream situation. However, it seems that the academic culture is shifting away from teaching and towards intense research. I admire and respect this, but I question whether I would consider myself “an academic”. If not, why would I be doing a PhD? That’s a question I’ll definitely explore in this blog. It’s something I’ve been working towards since I was 16. What really drives me, I think, is the process of critical thinking, analysing, discussing, and then implementing change. That process of collaboration and active change. At this early stage of my PhD journey I foresee myself working in a consultation capacity in the future. There are organisations which I truly admire for their leadership development work, and this – I feel – is ultimately my ‘calling’. But it all remains to be seen.