2016 08 19 Elaine SaloElaine Salo: 1962–2016

Elaine Rosa Salo trained in anthropology at UCT in the early 1980s. She was a feminist scholar, she completed her PhD at Emory, examining gendered roles in Mannenberg, Cape Town. She was part of UCT's African Gender Institute from 2000 to 2008, before leaving to become director of Women and Gender Studies at the University of Pretoria. She became associate professor in political science and international relations at the University of Delaware in 2014. 

The Elaine Salo Honours Prize was introduced in 2016. The prize is awarded to the best student essay submitted by a honours student as a paper at the annual Anthropology Southern Africa conference.

Congratulations to our 2017 winner Hestia Victorr

Runner up:  Molebogeng Mokoena

Previous Winners

2016: Julia Munroe

          Chloe Shain




 2017 Hestia Victor

Hestia Victor1Biography 

I am currently an MA student in Social Anthropology at the North West University under supervision of Dr André Goodrich. My love for ethnography was sparked when I (with a group of fellow final year students) was assigned to write up the life story of an old ‘coloured’ man who was forcibly removed from his house by the apartheid state during the late 1960’s. The state’s continued violence imposed upon poor South Africans even after the dispersal of the apartheid state stirred me and inspired my current research interests which are in the creative ways people make life among turbulent economies of state abandonment.

My paper for the 2017 Elaine Salo prize is based on my honours research which was supervised by Pia Bombardella. The paper tells the story of how residents in Marikana, a dusty informal settlement outside Potchefstroom, South Africa, utilised DIY-formalisation and auto-constructed water infrastructures to navigate the troubled waters of state abandonment in order to experience and maintain ‘life in this place’. The life that residents experienced was neither ‘romantically’ resilient nor was it ignorant of adversity. I call this buoyant life.



 2017 Molebogeng Mokoena

Molebogeng MokoenaBiography 

Molebogeng Mokoena is a student currently completing her honours in anthropology at the University of Pretoria and also tutors first year anthropology students. Her research is centred on the black middle class and their social mobility and she looks at intergenerational wealth transfers within families in Sebokeng, a township in the south of Gauteng

"Inherited inequalities? An ethnography of inheritance and intergenerational wealth transfer in Sebokeng, Emfuleni District Municipality"

Abstract: There is a growing body of research in South Africa focussed on the middle class. Some scholars are focussed on the consumption patterns of the middle class as a way to understand class dynamics and inequality between genders, races and ages in terms of wage differentials. This body of research does not really engage with the issue of intergenerational transfer of wealth. While some scholars write about intergenerational relationships, very little has been written about intergenerational wealth transfers in the black middle class. One of the aims of this research is to contribute to this gap in the literature by exploring social mobility, expectations among the children of teachers (millennials), and cross examining intergenerational wealth transfers between five families in Emfuleni District Municipality. In our public discourse, much is made of popular sentiments such as “the rich get richer and the poor get poorer” but we do not know much about the middle class. This research aims to give insight into this group by using the new perspective of intergenerational wealth transfers. I employed life histories and interviews amongst middle class households in EDM with one or more of the main breadwinners who are employed as teachers. I also employed kinship diagrams to map the flow of intergenerational wealth transfers across the different families. I inquired into what constitutes wealth, what the emerging rules for sharing and transferring such wealth are, whether such forms of wealth are considered as gifts or not, and what relationships get formed or terminated upon the transfer of wealth. A key aspect was discovering whether the breadwinners self-identify as the middle class their occupations ascribe to them.



2016 Julia Munroe


Julia Munroe is a South Africa student completing her Anthropology Honours at the University of Cape Town under the supervision of Professor Fiona Ross. Her thesis research explores the work of an NGO which distributes washable sanitary pads to school girls and explores the politics of menstruation in the South African context. She is passionate about gender equality, reproductive health and sustainability.

‘7 Million Girls:’ Menstruation, Dignity and the Politics of Big Numbers

Menstruation is steeped in stigma and taboo thus the difficulties associated with menstrual management are commonly overlooked and under-discussed in South Africa’s public discourse and public policy. In 2011, the NGO the Sanitary Dignity Campaign asserted that in South Africa seven million girls miss a week of school every month because they cannot afford sanitary pads. I conducted ethnographic fieldwork with the Sanitary Dignity Campaign over a period of five months, tracing how this narrative successfully engendered and foregrounded a ‘cause’ in public imagination, attracting NGOs, government MPs, students and activists to join forces in the name of ‘7 million girls’. This paper argues that the significant success of this campaign is twofold: regardless of the ‘truth value’ of the statistic of seven million, framing girls’ menstrual-related difficulties in terms of a ‘big number’ rendered the issue quantifiable and therefore ‘real’ in the eyes of a society which takes statistics as objective and ‘factual’. Secondly, by discussing a stigmatised, menstrual-related issue in terms of girls’ dignity and education the Sanitary Dignity Campaign’s narrative ‘sanitised’ a previously ‘unsanitary’ issue by rather framing it in terms girls’ constitutional rights and the contravention thereof. As a result of these processes, I argue, we can see the emergence of a greater awareness of a ‘gendered citizen’ and what such citizens might need in order for their basic constitutional rights to be met.