Research Project "Salvaged Lives: A Study of Urban Migration, Ontological Insecurity, and Healing in Johannesburg"
Dr. Matthew Wilhelm-Solomon is a researcher at the African Centre for Migration & Society at the University of Witwatersrand (Wits), Johannesburg. He was born and grew up in Johannesburg and completed a BA Honours in Political Studies at Wits. He is the recipient of a Rhodes Scholarship through which he completed his masters and doctorate in development studies at the University of Oxford. His doctoral research was an ethnographic study of HIV/AIDS treatment programmes to displaced communities in northern Uganda. Presently he is conducting ethnographic research in inner-city Johannesburg on themes of migration, religion, healing, and health and housing.
His most recent publication is "The Priest's Soldiers: HIV Therapies, Health Identities, and Forced Encampment in Northern Uganda." Medical Anthropology 32.3 (2013): 227-246.
Matthew Wilhelm-Solomon is co-recipient, in partnership with Hansjörg Dilger of Freie Universität Berlin, Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, of a project grant as part of the Volkswagen Foundation Knowledge for Tomorrow - Cooperative Research Projects in Sub-Saharan Africa programme. The project, which will run over 2014 and 2015 is entitled "Salvaged Lives: A Study of Urban Migration, Ontological Insecurity, and Healing in Johannesburg."
The objective of this research is to explore the forms of ontological insecurity of urban migrants and their strategies of healing and frame this within a broader urban (bio) politics of life. The project situates healing strategies within a broader ethnography of the urban migrant experience, and focuses on multiple healing practices, viewing these as implicated diverse forms of biopolitical and moral control. It also focuses on the continual processes of displacement that affect populations in the inner-city subject to recurrent evictions and deportations.
While Dr. Wilhelm-Solomon’s fieldwork is conducted in Johannesburg the project will also include comparative work on these themes through co-organized workshops in Johannesburg and Berlin between Freie Universität Berlin and the African Centre for Migration & Society (ACMS).