Presenter: Dr Alude Mahali, Senior Research Specialist


Research has a history of extraction and oppression: Scholars, often from Global North contexts, gaining recognition for their expose of the lives of those in the South.  In taking seriously the need for new methodologies and approaches to research that will benefit, include and possibly emancipate young people in Global South contexts, SNI offers one such example. Social network interviewing (SNI) is an exploratory research and intervention tool from South Africa aimed at creating a template for young people to engage with community members in areas of concern for both. In SNI, research participants carry out interviews with members of their social networks, including parents, extended family, teachers, friends, local authority figures and religious leaders, based on questions developed collaboratively but aligned to a conceptual template. The aim of such an approach is to offer both a research and intervention tool in which productive conversations between young people and community members are facilitated. By cycling through a series of questions that focus first on current scripts circulating within communities, societies and sub-culture groups, to self-reflection and critique of current behaviour, and then to ways in which the status quo might be changed, participants are provided an opening for discussions of the effects of culture, inequality and poverty on opportunity, resources and behaviour.

Presenter Biography:

Dr Alude Mahali is a Senior Research Specialist in the Education and Skills Development (ESD) programme at the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC). She holds a Masters degree and PhD from the University of Cape Town. She is an evidence-informed social science researcher responsible for conducting high level scholarly research and developing policies that recognise South Africa’s complex social, economic, educational and political environment. She currently works mainly in the areas of transforming higher education and promoting anti-racism and citizenship education. Before joining the HSRC, Alude taught at the Edna Manley College of Visual and Performing Arts in Kingston, Jamaica and at the University of Cape Town. Alude’s research expertise and experience ranges from youth social justice work to innovative visual and participatory methodologies in the sociology of education. Alude is currently Principal Investigator on three projects: one on civic education for youth, another on language policies and practices in South African Higher Education Institutions and finally a longitudinal cohort study of African tertiary alumni of the Mastercard Foundation Scholars’ Programme. Her most recent publications look at the domestic worker trope, social protest and youth activism, intersectional understandings of education, language and youth navigational capacities. Alude is currently editor of the South African Theatre Journal and an honorary lecturer in the Department of Drama and Performance Studies at the University of KwaZulu Natal.