News & events


“Closing the Gate: Death, Dignity and Distress in the rural Eastern Cape in the time of Covid19”

09 November 2020
13:00 - 15:00

DATE: Monday 09 November 2020

TIME: 15:00 – 17:00

VENUE: Zoom Please RSVP to obtain meeting password



Prof Leslie Bank is a Social Anthropologist and Deputy Executive Research Director at the Human Sciences Research Council.

Dr Nelly Sharpley holds a PhD in Sociology and is the Head of Social Sciences at Walter Sisulu University

As Covid19 cases are again on the increase in some parts of South Africa and there are discussions about a 2nd wave, there is a need to learn lessons from how the South African government and all sectors of society responded to the first wave of the pandemic. In this webinar Prof Bank and Dr Shapley will argue that paying attention to cultural context reveals aspects of the logics of everyday social and cultural lives at the local level that might guide life-saving interventions and action.

Between May and July 2020 the HSRC and WSU, supported by ECSECC, conducted a broadly ethnographic study, with fieldworkers located in 10 villages in in the Chris Hani, OR Tambo, Alfred Nzo and Amatole districts of the Eastern Cape. The study aimed to document how rural communities were experiencing and responding to Covid19, with peoples’ practices at funerals and in their everyday life as the focal point. As it is clear that this pandemic is not a passing event, and weaknesses in response strategies are revealed, this study argues for a ‘people’s science’ where socio-cultural approaches compliment the bio-medical response.