Connecting the Dots: Cultivating a Sustainable Interdisciplinary Discourse Around Migration, Urbanisation, and Health in Southern Africa

Jo Hunter-Adams, Tackson Makandwa, Stephen A. Matthews, Henrietta Nyamnjoh, Tolu Oni and Jo Vearey (2018), Connecting the Dots: Cultivating a Sustainable Interdisciplinary Discourse Around Migration, Urbanisation, and Health in Southern Africa, in Global Health Collaboration: Challenges and Lessons. [OPEN ACCESS]

This chapter describes our experiences in connecting a group of emerging Southern African scholars around the inherently interdisciplinary field of migration, urbanisation and health. South Africa, as with other countries in the region, is witnessing multiple simultaneous and interconnected transitions – health, demographic, social, economic and political. Defining, measuring and better understanding the dynamics and complexities of these transitions is a fundamental step in the professionalizing of next-generation scholars in the area of migration, urbanisation and health. In this chapter we discuss themes, definitions and the process of forming group discourse at the nexus of migration, urbanisation and health. Driven by substantive questions derived from studies of the lived experiences of urban migrants in South Africa, specifically the intertwining of migration trajectories and health histories, a central goal of our collaborative endeavour was ‘to connect the dots’ – key concepts, data, measures and methods – in order to identify common themes and research priorities that will facilitate the participation of next-generation scholars in developing innovative and new research agendas. We report on the themes that emerged from a 2015 workshop held at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg that brought together senior and early-career scholars to discuss ways of engaging with migration, urbanisation and health in the Southern African context. We close with a discussion of the opportunities and challenges for early-career scholars in this field, identifying next steps to develop and sustain in-country capacity to influence both research and public policy.

About Jo Vearey

Jo Vearey is an Associate Professor with the African Centre for Migration & Society, University of the Witwatersrand. She holds an Honorary Fellowship with the School of Social and Political Science at the University of Edinburgh, and a Senior Fellowship at the Centre for Peace, Development and Democracy at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. In 2015, Jo was awarded a Humanities and Social Science Wellcome Trust Investigator Award. Jo holds a MSc in the Control of Infectious Diseases (LSHTM, 2003), a PhD in Public Health (Wits, 2010), and has been rated by the National Research Foundation as a Young Researcher. In 2014 and 2015, Jo received a Friedel Sellschop Award from the University of the Witwatersrand for outstanding young researchers. She was a Marie Curie Research Fellow in 2013, at the UNESCO Chair on Social and Spatial Inclusion of Migrants, University of Venice (SSIM-IUAV), Venice, Italy.

With a commitment to social justice and the development of pro-poor policy responses, Jo’s research explores international, regional, national and local responses to migration, health, and urban vulnerabilities. Her research interests focus on urban health, public health, migration and health, the social determinants of health, HIV, informal settlements and sex work. Jo is particularly interested in knowledge production, dissemination and utilisation including the use of visual and arts-based methodologies.

Jo has a range of international collaborations, including an ESRC-NRF funded project with the University of Edinburgh, a WOTRO funded project with the VU University, Amsterdam on migration and sex work, and partnerships with the University of Massachusetts Boston and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine‘s Faculty of Public Health and Policy and Gender, Violence and Health Unit.

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