The Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) and Universities South Africa have awarded Professor Deevia Bhana, the South African Research Chair (SARChI) in Gender and Childhood Sexuality at UKZN, and the 2022 Medal for Social Sciences and Humanities (USAf). The HSRC, which launched the accolade in 2016, made the announcement at a formal gathering on the subject of the Engaged Scholarship.
Scholars who have made remarkable contributions to social sciences and humanities research are given the HSRC Medal each year. In addition, medals are given by the HSRC and USAf in the areas of rising scholars and team research.
Bhana, a B-rated scientist by the National Research Foundation, was recognized for her accomplishments as a seasoned researcher. Professors Njabulo Ndebele, Charles van Onselen, Michael Chapman, Jonathan Jansen, Achille Mbembe, and Isabel Hofmeyr are just a few of the previous honorees.
Bhana said: “The medal award is significant for me as it is the only one in South Africa that recognizes 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 programs 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 emphasized that the acknowledgment confirmed the Department of Science and Innovation’s (DSI) and the NRF’s commitment to supporting the Research Chair Initiative in Gender and Childhood Sexuality.
“The award recognizes 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 encouraged 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 a lot about how gender and sexuality are experienced in the early stages of life. She uses a broad, interdisciplinary social scientific lens to shed light on how children and young people experience sex, sexuality, violence, and inequality on a daily basis. Numerous keynote addresses, invited talks, and publications, which include 11 books, 147 book chapters, and articles in peer-reviewed journals, all show her unique achievements and effect.
Her latest book, Girls and the Negotiation of Porn in South Africa: Power, Play, and Sexuality were 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).