Dr Mandisa Mbali joined the Department of Historical Studies in 2017 from Stellenbosch University, where she taught Social Anthropology. She obtained her doctoral degree in Modern History at Oxford University.  Her main research interest is in health policy and activism, considered historically, as interrelated phenomena, both transnationally and within South Africa. Dr Mbali has explored this theme in book chapters and journal articles on AIDS activism and policies, health, gender and sexuality and the politics of race and ethics in international health.  In 2013 she published her scholarly monograph South African AIDS Activism and Global Health Politics with Palgrave Macmillan as part of their Global Ethics series: this monograph was completed during postdoctoral fellowships at Yale University and the University of KwaZulu-Natal.  More recently, her work has analysed transnational debates over apartheid and medical humanitarianism in late twentieth century South Africa.

Research Interests and Areas of Supervision:

  • Global public health policy and activism 
  • The politics of HIV/AIDS and COVID-19
  • Histories of women, gender and sexuality
  • Racism and medical humanitarianism

Select Publications:


  • Mbali, M. South African AIDS Activism and Global Health Politics. Houndmills and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013. 

Journal Articles and Book Chapters

  • Mbali,M. "Health Justice, Activism and the Crisis of HIV/AIDS in South Africa". In The Oxford Handbook of South African History. D. Magaziner, Ed.  Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2021,  DOI:  10.1093/oxfordhb/9780190921767.013.36
  • Mbali, M. “From AIDS to cancer: health activism, biotechnology and intellectual property in South Africa” Social Dynamics, 2020, 46, 3: 449-70. 
  • Mbali, M. 'African Achievers, Structural Barriers and the ‘End of AIDS’. In Forward, Upward, Onward? Narratives of Achievement in African and Afroeuropean Contexts. U. Pirker, K. Hericks, M. Mbali, Eds. Düsseldorf: hhu (Heinrich Heine University) books, 2020, doi: https://doi.org/10.25838/hhubooks.21
  • Pirker, U., K. Hericks and M. Mbali. 'Introduction: Narratives of Achievement in African and Afroeuropean Contexts'. In Forward, Upward, Onward? Narratives of Achievement in African and Afroeuropean Contexts. U. Pirker, K. Hericks, M. Mbali, Eds. Düsseldorf: hhu (Heinrich Heine University) books [coauthored and coedited publication], 2020, doi: https://doi.org/10.25838/hhubooks.21
  • Mbali, M. ‘HIV/AIDS in Africa’. Global Encyclopaedia of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) History. Boston, MA: Cengage, 2019. 
  • Mbali, M. ‘South African AIDS Activism: Lessons for High-Impact Global Health Advocacy'. In Routledge Handbook of the Politics of Global Health, eds. J. Garcia and R. Parker. London: Routledge, 2019. 
  • Mbali, M. '“A Matter of Conscience”: The Moral Authority of the World Medical Association and the Readmission of the South Africans, 1976—1994'. Medical History, 2014,58, 02: 257—77.