SARChI Chair in South African Art and Visual Culture

Brenda Schmahmann is the author of Through the Looking Glass: Representations of South African Women Artists (2004), Mapula: Embroidery and Empowerment in the Winterveld (2006), Picturing Change: Curating Visual Culture at Post-Apartheid Universities (2013) and The Keiskamma Art Project: Restoring Hope and livelihoods (2016). She is editor or co-editor of Material Matters (2000), Between Union and Liberation: Women Artists in South Africa, 1910-1994 (2005), Public Art in South Africa: Bronze Warriors and Plastic Presidents (2017), Troubling Images: Visual Culture and the Politics of Afrikaner Nationalism (2020) and Iconic Works of Art by Feminists and Gender Activists: Mistress-Pieces (2021).  She has sole-authored more than 85 scholarly articles or book chapters as well as many reviews, and has curated two large-scale travelling exhibitions. She has also edited or co-edited special issues of African Artsde arteTextile: Cloth and Culture and Image & Text, and is co-editor of the Taylor & Francis journal, Public Art Dialogue. A finalist (top five) for the HERS-SA Higher Education Women Leaders Awards in the category: Humanities and Social Sciences in 2023, she also has a rating of B1 from the National Research Foundation.


Telephone: 011 559 7220

Senior Lecturer

Irene Bronner is a Senior Lecturer with the South African Research Chair in South African Art and Visual Culture, in the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture (FADA), at the University of Johannesburg. Irene held a postdoctoral fellowship with the Chair (2016-2019), prior to which she received her D. Litt et Phil in 2016 from the University of Johannesburg with Prof. Brenda Schmahmann as her primary supervisor. She has participated in the CAA Getty International Program and has been awarded a Y1 researcher rating from the NRF and a University of Johannesburg Postdoctoral Research Fellows’ Excellence Award. She has published locally and internationally | . Her research interests centre on feminist new materialisms in the visual arts, with a focus on contemporary South Africa.


Telephone: 011 559 7225

Senior Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Philippa Hobbs (since July 2023; postdoctoral research fellow from July 2019 – June 2023)

Philippa Hobbs’s PhD (University of Johannesburg, 2019) examined issues of ideology and female agency in tapestries made at the Evangelical Lutheran Church Art and Craft Centre, Rorke’s Drift, during the Swedish period 1961-1976. She was supervised by Prof. Brenda Schmahmann; a compilation clip of her graduation may be seen here: She was instrumental in collating the Power, Gender and Community Art Archive and lodging it at the University of Johannesburg Library. Philippa has co-authored three publications (with Elizabeth Rankin), including Listening to Distant Thunder: The Art of Peter Clarke (2011) and Rorke’s Drift: Empowering Prints (2003). As Curator of the MTN Art Collection (2004-2014), Philippa curated national travelling exhibitions, also editing accompanying publications, notably Messages and Meaning (2005). Since 2019, Philippa has been extending her PhD research to some of the outcomes of the Rorke’s Drift practice, such as the Thabana-li-Mele weavery in Lesotho and Allina Ndebele’s independent workshop in Northern KwaZulu-Natal. She has a C2 NRF researcher rating.


Postdoctoral Research Fellows

Theo Sonnekus (since May 2021)

Theo obtained a PhD in Visual Arts from Stellenbosch University in 2016 and is currently researching a selection of coffee-table books of homoerotic male nude photography published by Alternative Books in South Africa in the late apartheid period (1981-1991). The project invites critical perspectives on apartheid-era censorship, desire and pleasure, nationalism and heteronormativity, and the politics of multiracial representation. He recently contributed chapters to the Routledge Handbook of Critical Studies in Whiteness (2022) and Troubling Images: Visual Culture and the Politics of Afrikaner Nationalism (Wits University Press, 2020).


Melissa Gerber (since January 2022)

Melissa Gerber received her PhD in Music (University of the Free State) in 2021. In her thesis entitled “(De)coding Contemporary South African Opera: Multimodality and the Creation of Meaning, 2010-2018,” she unpacked the multimodal character of opera production and constructed a framework to map the reciprocal processes of meaning-making between creators, designers, performers, and audiences.  Building on her PhD, her current research focuses on the intersections between opera production and its material remnants within the broader network of apartheid-era visual culture. Her research has been published in conference proceedings in the UK and South Africa, and journals SAMUS: South African Music Studies and Music and Letters.


Everyjoy Magwegwe (Since December 2022)

Everjoy Magwegwe was awarded her PhD in Public Management (2021) from the Durban University of Technology with an Action Research study entitled “Community-based strategies for the prevention of gender-based violence in mining communities”. Everjoy received her M.SocSci in Development Studies from Lupane State University. Her postdoctoral project and publications find multi-disciplinary, community-based strategies to target developmental challenges in marginalised communities, using an Action Research methodology informed by the critical emancipatory advocacy paradigm. Her research interests centres on how women, girls and youth participate in and integrate popular and visual culture into everyday life. Her work engages with behaviour change and advocacy theories from a cultural, peace-building studies perspective, with feminism, and community development studies. Everjoy was featured in the 2021 Women’s Month South Africa DUT feature on the power of influential women as researchers.


Elaine Sullivan (Since February 2023)

Elaine Sullivan received her PhD in 2020 from the Department of World Arts and Culture/Dance at the University of California, Los Angeles, where she focused on African art history and museum studies. For her thesis, she analysed the works by contemporary African artists featured in the renovated Royal Museum for Central Africa in Tervuren, Belgium, and the role they played in the so-called “decolonisation” of the museum. Prior to joining the University of Johannesburg, she was the Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Curatorial Fellow for the arts of Africa at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In her current research, she works with contemporary Congolese artists who make work inspired by historical creative processes while also highlighting collective Congolese memories of the past 150 years.


Former Postdoctoral Research Fellows

Elia Eliev (2021-2022)
Currently working with a research grant-focused organization in Canada.

Irene Bronner (2016-2019)
Currently Senior Lecturer with the SARChI Chair in Art and Visual Culture, FADA, University of Johannesburg.

Malcolm Corrigall (2016-2018)
Currently Contents and Collections Assistant at Manchester Metropolitan University Library.

Annemi Conradie (2019)
Currently Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Arts, University of the North West.

Mathodi Motsamayi (2019-2020)

​PhD Candidates and their research projects

Ayobola Kekere-Ekun, “Place branding in advertising campaigns by the Lagos state government” (Supervisor: Prof. Brenda Schmahmann; Co-superviser: Prof Deirdre Pretorius).

Bougaard, [Project still to be determined] (Supervisor: Dr Irene Bronner; co-supervisor: Prof David Paton)

Carey-Anne Jayanandham, [Project still to be determined] (Supervisor: Prof Brenda Schmahmann; co-supervisor: Dr Irene Bronner)

Corné Johl, ‘Challenges and strategies in mediating conceptual art: the case of Willem Boshoff’. (Supervisor: Prof Brenda Schmahmann)

Firdoze Bulbulia, “The Fordsburg Women’s Group: Memories of Indian female activism in the 1980s” (Supervisor: Prof. Brenda Schmahmann; Co-supervisor: Prof Kim Berman)

Kate’Lyn Chetty, [Project still to be determined]. (Supervisor: Dr Landi Raubenheimer; Co-supervisor: Prof Brenda Schmahmann)

Khanya Mthethwa, “Decoloniality: An investigation of how coloniality of knowledge has impacted on BaVenda and AmaZulu waist belts”(Supervisor: Prof Anitra Nettleton; Co-supervisor: Prof Brenda Schmahmann).

Luyanda Zindela, [Project to be determined]. Supervisor: Prof Brenda Schmahmann; co-supervisor: Prof. Alison Kearney)

S’nothile Gumede, “A History of the University of Johannesburg Art Collection” (Supervisor: Prof Brenda Schmahmann).

Sinethemba Twalo, “Affect, Objecthood and Blackness in Dineo Seshee Bopape’s Works” (Supervisor: Prof. Brenda Schmahmann).

PhD Graduates

Irene Bronner, “Representations of Domestic Workers in Post-Apartheid South African Art Practice”; Currently Senior Lecturer, SARChI Chair, Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture, University of Johannesburg.

Jayne Crawshay-Hall, “Reconceptualising curatorial strategies and roles: Autonomous curating in Johannesburg between 2007 and 2016”; Currently Academic Head at Open Window Institute.

Hazel Cuthbertson, Ideas of Africanness in Alexis Preller’s Discovery of the Sea Route around Africa mural” (Supervisor: Prof. Brenda Schmahmann). Currently Postdoctoral Research Fellow, SARChI Chair, Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture, University of Johannesburg.

Roxy do Rego, “Parodies of Classical Mythologies by Women Artists in Post-Apartheid South Africa”; Currently Art History and Art Practical Lecturer, Humanities Education department, University of Pretoria.

Philippa Hobbs, “Ideology, imagery and female agency in tapestry at the Evangelical Lutheran Church Art and Craft Centre, Rorke’s Drift, during the Swedish period 1961-1976”; Currently Postdoctoral Research Fellow, SARChI Chair, Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture, University of Johannesburg.

Deléne Human, “Censorship and proscription of visual art in apartheid South Africa”(Supervisor: Prof. Brenda Schmahmann). Currently History of Art, Practical Art and Art Methodologies Lecturer in the Department of Humanities Education at the University of Pretoria.

Thabang Monoa, “The exploration of Blackness in Afrofuturist aesthetics” (Supervisor: Prof. Brenda Schmahmann). Currently Lecturer in Art History in the Michaelis School of Art, University of Cape Town.

Dineke van der Walt (Orton), “Curating Difficult Knowledge: Engagements with Sexual Violence in Exhibitions from the Early 21st Century”, Currently University Art Curator at the University of Johannesburg.

MA and M.Tech Candidates

Angie Lázaro
(Supervisor: Dr Irene Bronner; Co-supervisor: Prof Karen von Veh)

Anele Nzuza
(Supervisor: Prof Brenda Schmahmann)

Leonardo Sitoe
(Supervisor: Dr Ruth Sacks; co-supervisor: Prof Brenda Schmahmann)

Lerato Maisela
(Supervisor: Dr Irene Bronner; Co-supervisor: Mr Thato Radebe)

Lonwabo Mzamo
(Supervisor: Prof Brenda Schmahmann; co-supervisor: Ms Shoni Netshia)

Lira van Staden
(Supervisor Prof Brenda Schmahmann; Prof. Alison Kearney)

Sadie Swartz
(Supervisor: Dr Irene Bronner; co-supervisor: Dr Landi Raubenheimer)

Tlotlo Sereisho
(Supervisor Prof Brenda Schmahmann; Ms Bronwyn Findlay)


MA and M.Tech Graduates

Alexa Pienaar
(Supervisor: Prof Brenda Schmahmann; Co-supervisor: Prof David Paton)

Allen Laing
(Supervisor: Dr David Paton; Co-supervisor: Prof Brenda Schmahmann)

Angelique Bougaard
(Supervisor: Dr Irene Bronner; Co-supervisor: Prof David Paton)

Gershwin Fritz
(Supervisor: Dr Anthony Ambala)

Ra’eesah Hoosen
(Supervisor: Prof Deirdre Pretorius)

Lisa Linossi
(Supervisor: Prof Brenda Schmahmann; Co-supervisor: Vedant Nanackchand)

Jaylin Richardson
(Supervisor: Prof Brenda Schmahmann; Co-supervisor: Bronwyn Findley)

Kate’Lyn Chetty
(Supervisor: Landi Raubenheimer; Co-supervisor: Prof Brenda Schmahmann)

Kailashnee Naidoo
(Supervisor: Dr Marlize Groenewald)

Khulile Sibanda
(Supervisor: Prof Deirdre Pretorius)

Kiveshan Thumbiran
(Supervisor: Prof Brenda Schmahmann; Co-supervisor: Minnette Vari)

Muziwandile Gigaba
(Supervisor: Prof Brenda Schmahmann; Co-supervisor: Prof Kim Berman)

Nthabiseng Mbale
(Supervisor: Dr Anthony Ambala; Co-supervisor: Landi Raubenheimer)

Xolisa Sibeko
(Supervisor: Dr Marelize Groenewald)

Vanessa Tembane
(Supervisor: Prof Brenda Schmahmann; Co-supervisor: Vedant Nanackchand)

Current B.Tech/Honours Candidates

B.Tech/Honours Graduates

Alexia Ferreira
Carey Jayanandham
Leonardo Sitoe
Lonwabo Mzamo
Sinead Fletcher
Tumelo Mtimkhulu

Visiting Associate Professor – Global Excellence 4.0

Staffan Löfving

Staffan Löfving is a social anthropologist and Head of Subject at the Intercultural Studies unit, the Department of Language, Literature and Intercultural Studies, Karlstad University, Sweden. A former photographer and journalist, Löfving is currently researching visual communication and the social life of images, themes he explores in different European and Latin American contexts and in collaboration with South African scholars and photographers. Based on long-term anthropological fieldwork in Guatemala and Colombia, he has published books and scholarly articles on displacement and emplacement, paramilitarism and the state, economic anthropology, and union organizing in times of economic crisis.



Visiting Associate Professor – Global Excellence 4.0

Shanade Barnabas

Shanade Bianca Barnabas is in the Faculty of Arts at the University of Groningen, Netherlands. An NRF Y2 rated scholar, she was formerly Associate Professor and Head of the Department of Communication and Media at the University of Johannesburg. Her research is at the juncture of culture, indigeneity and heritage. Her current research interest is on how contested heritage is negotiated in societies with a view to critically evaluate the hits and misses in the heritage landscape of societies of conflict.



Research Associates

Kim Miller

Kim Miller is a Professor and holds the Jane Oxford Keiter Professorship of women’s and gender studies of art history at Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts. Miller’s scholarship, which examines the relationship between visual culture, gender and power in African arts, includes her forthcoming book, How Did They Dare? Women’s Activism and the Work of Memory in South African Commemorative Art.



Paul Weinberg

Paul Weinberg is a well-known and award-winning South African documentary photographer, filmmaker, writer, curator and archivist. He was a founder member of Afrapix and South, the collection photo agencies that gained international recognition for their role in documenting apartheid and resistance to it. Since 1990, he has shifted towards a focus on feature rather than news photography. He is based in Cape Town. Paul has a rating of C1 from the National Research Foundation.