Born in South Africa, raised in Australia and having studied and conducted research in Indonesia, Jordan and the Netherlands, my work reflects my personal and professional paths to date. My initial tertiary studies (Bachelor of International Studies (First Class Honours), University of New South Wales (2008)) focused on Indonesian Studies, French and linguistics. My love for history developed when completing an MA in Historical Studies at the University of Cape Town (with distinction, 2011). My Masters thesis, inspired by the idea of the 'biography' of archives, focused on the jawi (Arabic-Malay) and Arabic-Afrikaans Islamic manuscript traditions of the Cape Town Muslim community. While at UCT I moved further into the field of history through my work as a researcher for the Tombouctou Manuscripts Project, focusing on Arabic and ajami manuscript cultures throughout Africa. I was also a member of the Archive and Public Culture Research Initiative.
My current research interests are in Southeast Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, Indian Ocean Islam and historical anthropology. I enjoy integrating archival work with ethnographic and oral history research in order to place personal and community stories into a broader historical framework. As a scholar interested in trans-regional connections, I value the ability to work on ‘both sides,’ and have harnessed my linguistic skills, historical training and cultural competencies to do so in the case of Southern Africa and Southeast Asia.
My dissertation project analyses the social and cultural repercussions of Early Modern movement between Southeast Asia and Southern Africa, through a transoceanic exploration of site and story. It focuses on one iconic, shared narrative of exile that has emerged in Indonesia and South Africa over the past three centuries: that of 17th century Sufi scholar Shaykh Yusuf of Makassar, banished to the Cape of Good Hope from Batavia for political resistance against the Dutch East India Company. By following the development of Shaykh Yusuf’s biography and the physical sites attached to his memory, my dissertation illuminates the physical spaces, communities and processes that his movement gave rise to. It also highlights new flows of people and ideas between Indonesia and South Africa that have been inspired by the memory of this 17th century figure and his trans-Indian Ocean movements.
I am currently a Graduate Fellow at the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies. While at Princeton I have also served as an Assistant in Instruction for the Department of History (Fall 2015), as a Resident Graduate Student at Wilson College (2012-14, 2016-17) and as a member of the Graduate Women of Colour Caucus.
- 'Many Makassars: Tracing an Africa-Southeast Asian Narrative of Shaykh Yusuf Taj al-Khalwati al-Maqassari' in Migration and Agency in a Globalizing World: Afro-Asian Encounters ed. Scarlett Cornelissen & Yoichi Mine (Palgrave Macmillan, Forthcoming 2017)
- ‘Jawi dari jauh: “Malays” in South Africa through text’ Indonesia and the Malay World 40 (Special Issue 117) (2012): 143-159
- ‘From the madrasah to the museum: The social life of the kietaabs of Cape Town’History in Africa 38 (2011): 369-399
Non-academic/ Public History Publications
- ‘Curious Correspondence: The Case of Shaykh Yusuf’ in the Good Hope: South Africa – Netherlands 1600-1994 Exhibition Catalogue (Amsterdam: Rijksmuseum/Vantilt, 2017)
- ‘On Not Reading Manuscripts in Makassar’ Tombouctou Manuscript Project (Blog Post) 9 December, 2015 (http://www.tombouctoumanuscripts.org)
- ‘Afrikaans in Odd Places’ in Movement: Cape Town ed. Zahira Asmal (Cape Town: The City Press, 2015)
- ‘Writing the City in a Different Script’ in Muzmin, special edition of The Chimurenga Chronic June 2015
- ‘What are the Unintended Consequences of Colonialism?’ Africa is a Country (Blog Post) 28 September 2013 (http://africasacountry.com)