Professor Deevia Bhana, the South African Research Chair (SARChI) in Gender and Childhood Sexuality in UKZN’s School of Education, has been awarded the 2022 Medal for Social Sciences and Humanities by the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) and Universities South Africa (USAf).
The announcement was made by the HSRC – who introduced the award in 2016 – at an official event themed: Engaged Scholarship.
The HSRC Medal is awarded annually to scholars for outstanding research contributions in Social Sciences and Humanities. In addition, the HSRC and USAf award medals in the emerging scholars and team research categories.
Bhana, a National Research Foundation B-rated scientist, was honoured for her contributions as an established researcher. Previous recipients include Professor Njabulo Ndebele, Professor Charles van Onselen, Professor Michael Chapman, Professor Jonathan Jansen, Professor Achille Mbembe and Professor Isabel Hofmeyr.
Bhana said: ‘The medal award is significant for me as it is the only one in South Africa that recognises outstanding research in the Social Sciences and Humanities. It acknowledges the role of Social Sciences in improving our understanding of societal issues and helps to inform policy and programmes to enhance people’s lives. Outstanding academics in the field are awarded the medal based on their international scholarly reputation, and evidence of sustained meaningful and impactful work.
‘This award has at its heart a measurement of quality social science research,’ she said.
Bhana highlighted that the acknowledgement re-affirmed the commitment made by the NRF and the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) to support the Research Chair Initiative in Gender and Childhood Sexuality.
‘The award recognises the significance of the field of study and encourages further research to address some of the key concerns around childhood sexuality, sexual violence and gender inequalities. It is also further encouragement to work harder to find solutions, to continue to develop new research agendas and to improve our responses to what children and young people need.’
Bhana has written extensively on the experience of gender and sexuality in the young life course bringing a broad interdisciplinary social science lens to provide insight into children’s and young people’s everyday experience of sex, sexuality, violence and inequalities. Her distinctive contributions and impact are reflected in several international keynote addresses, invited talks and her publications which include 11 books, and 147 book chapters and articles in peer-reviewed journals.
Her latest book, Girls and the Negotiation of Porn in South Africa: Power, Play and Sexuality will be published by Routledge in July 2022.
Other books she has written include: Love, Sex and Teenage Sexual Cultures in South Africa (2018, Routledge); Gender and Childhood Sexuality in the Primary School (2016, Springer); Childhood Sexuality and AIDS Education: The Price of Innocence (2016, Routledge).
The most recent books she has co-edited are Gender, Sexuality and Violence in South African Educational Spaces (2021, Palgrave Macmillan) and Sex and Sexualities, Sexual Health and Justice: Perspectives from Southern Africa (2022, Routledge).