Dr. Rosette Sifa Vuninga is a National Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Cape Town’s Historical Studies Department, South Africa. In 2023, she successfully completed her PhD and graduated from the University of the Western Cape’s Department of Historical Studies. She is also a Social Sciences Research Council (SSRC) 2023 Next Generation Social Sciences in Africa (Next Gen) Post-Doctoral Writing Fellow, 2020 Next Gen Doctoral Dissertation Completion Fellow, and a 2016 African Peacebuilding Network (APN) Collaborative Research Group grantee. Her PhD project focuses on ways in which ethnic and regional identities are experienced among migrants with a focus on the Congolese people of Cape Town. Dr. Vuninga’s research is in the field of migration and explores issues related to transborder politics of identity and belonging as well as gender politics in migrant networks. Her research interest also includes urban networks of violence, with a particular interest on aspects of gender, class, and identity. She has publications, including peer-reviewed journal articles, book chapters, a book review, and working papers.

Photo by Chadrack Ntambwe Lubamba

 

Next Gen: Please describe the central argument of your doctoral dissertation. What is its main contribution to knowledge in your field?

Dr. Rosette Sifa Vuninga: My PhD thesis examines the ethno-regional politics, tensions, and conflicts among the Congolese immigrants of Cape Town in the post-Mobutu and post-apartheid eras. My research contributes to the field of migration and transborder politics with a particular interest in how identity conflicts migrate.

 

How did the Next Gen fellowship program impact your doctoral journey?

I first experienced the African Peacebuilding Network (APN)-Next Generation Social Sciences in Africa (Next Gen) Program in 2016 as a member of the APN Collaborative Working Group (CWG) that received the fellowship award for a project entitled From Networks of Violence to Networks of Peace: Armed Youth Violence in five African countries. I conducted research on youth networks of peace and violence in Bukavu (Democratic Republic of Congo). My PhD research proposal entitled “Baswahili and Bato ya Mangala: Regionalism and Congolese diasporic identity in Cape Town, 1997-2017” was approved at the end of 2015, and in 2016, I started my fieldwork research among Congolese immigrants in Cape Town. I later received two Next Gen fellowship awards, including the Doctoral Completion Fellowship in 2022 and the Postdoctoral Writing Fellowship in 2023.

Being a Next Gen fellow has positively impacted my doctoral journey in many ways. The Next Gen fellowship provided me with mentorship through workshops, conferences, and writing retreats. What I learned equipped me with a lot of skills relating to research methods and academic knowledge production that greatly benefitted the early stage of my PhD research, including data collection and analysis. I was able to further hone my academic writing skills through the mentorship I received from the APN and Next Gen program. This enabled me to write my research paper – a Working Paper published in 2017 and my first-ever publication. What I learned through the comments and feedback received on my research paper drafts by the dedicated and patient editorial team taught me writing skills that also helped in the writing of my PhD dissertation.

The 2020 Dissertation Completion Fellowship played a decisive role by providing me with the necessary financial means to stop some of the demanding and time-consuming part-time jobs I was doing while studying. I was able to pay part of my fees to enable me to focus on completing my dissertation. This award was very helpful, as I received it during the hard times of the Covid-19 pandemic.

 

Now that you have completed your PhD, what are your plans for the future?

The Next Gen Post-Doctoral fellowship continues to positively shape my academic journey as a young scholar through the Next Gen Postdoctoral Writing Fellowship I was awarded this year. This fellowship has provided me with funds to conduct more research where it is needed to turn parts of my doctoral research and dissertation into an academic paper.

I am a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Cape Town’s Historical Studies Department. I plan to continue researching and publishing on topics related to peace, conflict, and migrating violence. I am also searching for a permanent position in the academic (lecturer or researcher positions) or humanitarian sector, within and outside the continent.

 

What advice do you have for upcoming doctoral students?

To upcoming doctoral students: believe in yourselves, work hard, and use all the opportunities and resources available to Ph.D. students. Be proud of how far you have come, and believe you can do it. At the same time, be humble enough to know you cannot do it alone. Besides your thesis supervisor(s), there are many other scholars who are always willing to help you if you open up to them about your academic struggles and share your draft chapters/papers. Do not feel shy to share your work with others simply because you fear it will reveal your weaknesses or how bad you are academically. When you feel that way, remember you are a student and, hence, you stand to gain a lot from being mentored. Sharing your work in progress with senior scholars and supportive colleagues is one of the best ways to learn and grow. Academic growth is a continuous process. You should aim for it. No matter their level and title, every scholar should never stop aiming for academic growth. Work on your academic CV while studying for your PhD. Hence do not wait to complete your PhD to begin attending conferences and publishing. Have at least one publication before you submit your PhD dissertation. Last but definitely not least, have a balanced life while studying for your PhD. Both your physical and mental health are crucial to good academic performance and growth. Go for it and become a Dr.

 

 

A collection of Rosette Sifa Vuninga’s published works

Peer-reviewed Journal Articles:

Rosette Sifa Vuninga (2022). “Combattants and Baswahili: Beyond Ethno-regional Tensions among Congolese Immigrants of Cape Town, South Africa,” Politeia, 40 (2), https://doi.org/10.25159/2663-6689/10629.

Rosette Sifa Vuninga (2020). “Youth gangsters: negotiating power in intimate relationships among the youth in South Africa,” Politeia, 39(1), 1-16.

Rosette Sifa Vuninga (2018). “Youth Gangsters and Girlfriending, Intimate relations in the Township”, in “The Youth Question and Conflicts in Africa”, Special supplementary issue, The African Review, Vol. 45, no 1, 28-48.

 

Book Chapters:

Rosette Sifa Vuninga (2023). “ ‘Everyone is doing it’: The complex relationships between criminal and anti-criminal networks in Bukavu, Democratic Republic of Congo”. In Kaschula, Russell H., Monwabisi K. Ralarala, and Georgina Heydon, (Eds.) Language, Crime and Courts in Contemporary Africa and Beyond. African Sun Media.

Godfrey Maringira and Rosette Sifa Vuninga (2022). “Beyond Xenophobia: Migrants-Locals in Socio-Economic Spaces in Cape Town, South Africa,” in Christopher Isike and Efe Isike (eds.) Conflict and Concord – The Ambivalence of African Migrant/Host Relations in South Africa (London: Palgrave Macmillan) (co-authored with Godfrey Maringira).

Rosette Sifa Vuninga (2021). “Establishing Kinship in the Diaspora: Conducting Research among Fellow Congolese Immigrants of Cape Town,” In Ansoms A., Bisoka A., & Thomson S. (Eds.), Field Research in Africa: The Ethics of Researcher Vulnerabilities (Woodbridge, Suffolk, (GB); Rochester, NY, (US): Boydell & Brewer), 63-84.

 

Book Reviews:

Rosette Sifa Vuninga (2023). “The PhD Experience in African Higher Education (London: Lexington Books, 2022) by Ruth Murambadoro, John Mashayamombe, and uMbuso weNkosi (eds.).” https://kujenga-amani.ssrc.org/2023/03/31/a-review-of-ruth-murambadoro-john-mashayamombe-and-umbuso-wenkosi-eds-the-phd-experience-in-african-higher-education-london-lexington-books-2022/

Rosette Sifa Vuninga (2017). “Congolese Social Networks: Living on the Margins in Muizenberg, Cape Town by Joy Owen,” Refuge 33, no. 2, 104-107.

 

Working Papers:

Rosette Sifa Vuninga (2022). “Building My Reputation as a Young Researcher,” Kujunga Amani, 08/09/2022, https://kujenga-amani.ssrc.org/2022/09/08/building-my-reputation-as-a-young-researcher/

Rosette Sifa Vuninga (2018). “‘Everyone Is Doing It’: The Changing Dynamics of Youth Gang Activity in Bukavu, Democratic Republic of the Congo,” African Peacebuilding Network, Working Papers no 16 (Social Science Research Council), February.

Rosette Sifa Vuninga (2017). “Transforming Youth Anti-Crime Networks into Job Opportunities in Bukavu, Democratic Republic of the Congo,” Kujenga Amani, 09/ 11/ 2017, https://kujenga-amani.ssrc.org/2017/11/09/transforming-youth-anti-crime-networks-into-job-opportunities-in-bukavu-democratic-republic-of-the-congo/

Rosette Sifa Vuninga (2017). “Combattants: Activists or Criminals? A Reflection on Ethnoregionalism and Political Violence among Congolese Immigrants in South Africa,” Kujenga Amani, 14/ 03/ 2017,  https://kujenga-amani.ssrc.org/2017/03/14/combattants-activists-or-criminals-a-reflection-on-ethnoregionalism-and-political-violence-among-congolese-immigrants-in-south-africa/

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