In March 2014, SIID researchers Paula Meth and Lorenza Fontana visited the University of Cape Town to establish and cultivate research links, under the Worldwide Universities Network Research (WUN) Mobility Programme.

Dr. Paula Meth: Exploring ‘Gender & Changing Cities’

Dr. Paula Meth, Senior Lecturer in Town & Regional Planning, visited the University of Cape Town (UCT) to establish a core network of individuals interested in ‘Gender & Changing Cities’, as well as to build links with organisations working in this field. This networking event aimed to enhance and extend the previous successful networking event between Paula and Dr Mercy Brown-Luthango from UCTs African Centre for Cities (ACC). The visit extended her links with a wider range of colleagues in her research unit and the Department of Environmental and Geographical Sciences (EGS), as well as establishing links with non-academic organisations (e.g. NGOs) working in the field of ‘gender and changing cities’.

The visit focused on 3 key events:

  • A seminar for researchers and non-academics working on gender and cities: this explored existing critical and timely research questions based on previous research and dissemination.
  • A half-day roundtable workshop with other researchers and non-academics to share current and proposed research in order to examine what are the key gendered issues arising in rapidly changing cities.
  • Visits to NGOs and community organisations working on issues of gender in the city of Cape Town , including the Social Justice Coalition, and the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation.

To contact Dr. Paula Meth about her research, please email

Dr.Lorenza Fontana: Investigating Land Governance and Rural Movements

Dr. Lorenza Fontana, SIID Postdoctoral Research Associate, visited the University of Cape Town to explore the possibility of a comparative study of the land governance and rural movements’ claims in South Africa and Bolivia. This followed Lorenza’s recent work on land conflicts between indigenous and peasant organisations in the Andean region, which looked at the impact of land governance reforms on the processes of claim-making and identity-building at the local level.

During her visit, she also established new contacts with academic institutions and civil society stakeholder working on labour rights of vulnerable groups (children and domestic workers) and the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights in Southern Africa. This is part of a research agenda she is developing with Prof. Jean Grugel that aims at understanding, through a comparative and multidisciplinary perspective, how far rights conventions offer protection for some of the most vulnerable workers in the global South and explore the obstacles that get in the way of making them work more effectively.

Specifically, Lorenza met with research clusters at UCT, the University of Western Cape and the University of Pretoria working on 1) Business and human rights 2) Children’s rights 3) Domestic worker rights and 4) Land, rights and identity politics. The visit provided a great occasion to meet and discuss about the possibility of sustained collaboration, as well as to share perspective on current research and new ideas.

Lorenza also gave a seminar at the Centre for African Studies (UCT) in which, relying on the main findings of her research on identity politics and land governance in Bolivia, she identifies potential questions that might be relevant in the South African context. The aim was to contribute to bridge the divide between debates on ethnicity and land governance that have been evolving along parallel tracks in different world regions and that, yet, present great potentials for cross-fertilization.

To contact Dr. Lorenza Fontana about her research, please email