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24 Nov 2022

Press release

Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC)
Press Release

Human Sciences Research Council

HSRC to host a community engagement gathering to mark the beginning of the Wentworth Social History Project

Pretoria, Wednesday 23 November 2022The Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) invites members of Wentworth community to attend the Wentworth Social History Project community engagement meeting to be held at the Blue Roof Life Space, Wentworth, Durban, on Saturday 26 November 2022 at 10h30.

The main objectives of the community engagement are to formally introduce the Wentworth Social History Project and research team to the community and to solicit participation in the project by members of the community. On the day, the research team will engage with the community on the best ways to proceed with the project. The team will also work with the community in developing a long-term project plan.

According to the project leader, Dr Gregory Houston (HSRC), the Wentworth Social History Project research team is using interviews with past and current residents of Wentworth, a historically ‘coloured’ community in the South Durban Basin, to develop a social history of the community from its inception in the late 1950s to the present. (A similar study is being conducted in Langa in Cape Town.)

“The project was initiated in late October 2021, but was shelved when members of the research team were drawn into other projects from late November 2021 to end of August 2022. Consequently, no engagement was held with the community during this phase of the project,” said Dr Houston.

He indicated that the primary methodology to be used in the project will be life history interviews, as well as interviews with key informants. “In terms of the former, individuals who have lived for years in the community and/or have played a prominent role in the community during different phases in its history are taken through a life history interview that focuses on their lives from birth to the recent past.

“Key informants are individuals who have an extensive knowledge of the community’s history, or an aspect of its history, such as knowledge of individuals who played a key role in the community, families, migration patterns, housing, transformation of the built environment, sport, political activity, labour and business activity, social ills, etc,” explained Dr Houston.

The research team is currently using a Facebook group/page, Wentworth (South Africa) Represent, that has 27,000 members who are current and past residents of Wentworth, to post notifications about the project.

“The responses to the posts indicate a significant interest in the project from people living both inside and outside the country. Another special Facebook group/page called Wentworth Social History Project has just been created and it will be used as a platform for an extensive discussion and input from the community,” added Dr Houston.

The engagement is meant for the people who live in the Wentworth community (which is about the same size as Langa – i.e. 2 square kms), as well as past residents living elsewhere in the country and abroad who can participate in the engagement virtually or online.

The objectives of the project are, in the short-term, to produce a book, or series of books, of edited interviews titled Wentworth: A social history in life stories, and, in the long-term, to develop an open digital archive of audio and video interviews, and a collection of archival material such as newspaper reports on Wentworth, relevant documentation, video-recordings and photographs and other images.

Details of the event

Date:                 26 November 2022

Time:                 10h30

Venue:              Blue Roof Life Space (178 Austerville Drive, Wentworth Durban)

Link:                  https://zoom.us/meeting/register/tJUvd-Corj0oGt1V14dWPm5jUWCoZCM-alYR

To attend physically, send RSVP to Theresa Saber 073 5760170 or Darian Smith 068 480 217     

For media inquiries:

Dr Lucky Ditaunyane, Cell: 0832276074, Email: lditaunyane@hsrc.ac.zaAdziliwi Nematandani, Cell: 0827659191, Email: anematandani@hsrc.ac.za

Notes to the Editor

About the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC)

The HSRC was established in 1968 as South Africa’s statutory research agency and has grown to become the largest dedicated research institute in the social sciences and humanities on the African continent, doing cutting-edge public research in areas that are crucial to development.

Our mandate is to inform the effective formulation and monitoring of government policy; to evaluate policy implementation; to stimulate public debate through the effective dissemination of research-based data and fact-based research results; to foster research collaboration, and to help build research capacity and infrastructure for the human sciences.

The Council conducts large-scale, policy-relevant, social-scientific research for public sector users, non-governmental organizations, and international development agencies. Research activities and structures are closely aligned with South Africa’s national development priorities.

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