College of Humanities

UKZN Doctoral Research Scholarship – A Focus on Migration, Home and Identity

Ms Govender explains that her research is important as it investigates how migrants come to reflect and understand their identity and ‘home’ as they move to another country while still having ties to their ‘home’ country. She explains that concepts such as ‘home’ and identity are both fluid, malleable and open to appropriation and renegotiation within and across borders making them complex, multifaceted and multifarious. Thus, as people move from one country to another, the identity and notions of home of migrants are disrupted and destabilized in a new social setting. Questions of how to reconceptualise one’s identity and ‘home’ in a new social milieu but still connected to an old ‘home’ arise.

Her study specifically focuses on how South African’s of Indian descent, who are a heterogenous group of people, who are classified under the racial identity of ‘Indian’ in South Africa, might come to question their identity as they move to Australia, a society that does not entrench any racial categorising system in its state. Her study ultimately examines how this group of migrants would reconstruct their identity and re(make) ‘home’ moving from a country were ‘race’ and ‘race-thinking’ is institutionalised and promulgated by government to a country where ‘race’ is comparatively non-existent.

Ms Govender has several academic accolades under her belt, which includes a number of merit certificates, Dean’s commendation, bursaries awarded at undergraduate and Honours level for exceptional academic performance and a cum laude pass at Honours level. Although Ms Govender endured a setback during her master’s research which compelled her to leave academia after her completion of her master’s degree, her passion, perseverance and sheer determination ultimately brought her back to UKZN to pursue her PhD. Ms. Govender wishes to continue with her fledgling career as a researcher to become an outstanding researcher of the social sciences in the future. Ms Govender extends her gratitude towards all her teachers at the Sociology and Anthropology Departments at UKZN, especially her supervisor, who has over the years encouraged her, supported her and most importantly believed in her capabilities.

Her advice to other students is, ‘Life is not lived in a straight path. There might be obstacles in your way but don’t lose hope, be resilient, be dedicated, be disciplined. Things will come your way but in its own time so be patient, persevere, work-hard, do your best and never give up. Achieve and once you have achieved give back to those in need in your own way.’