A South African – Swiss comparison of the local inflections of global trends


As part of the endeavour to gain an improved understanding of change and persistence pertaining to gender in the context of global transformation processes, the Zentrum Gender Studies has been promoting collaboration and exchange with partners in South Africa since 2005.


Given the pervasiveness of gender throughout society and its institutions and across the many dimensions of individuals’ lives, multi-disciplinary collaboration is imperative to grasping the current transformations of societies, identities and cultures. Given the intersection of multiple transformation processes, intersectionalist methodologies which examine the reciprocal interaction between categories of difference and inequality – such as gender, race, class, location, health status, age etc – are indispensable. Given the effects of globalisation, local trends can only be understood by situating them within a global context. And finally, given the different levels at which transformation occurs, micro-, mezzo- and macro-level studies need to be integrated with each other. These four considerations together underline the need for a multidisciplinary, transnational research consortium that brings together a range of micro-, mezzo- and macro-level studies on gender and transformation which take into consideration the intersections between different transformation processes relating to difference and inequality.


  • Subproject 1: Workshop series at the University of the Witwatersrand, the University of KwaZulu-Natal and University of the Western Cape – October 2007.
  • Subproject 2: Sex, Gender and Politics: Research and policy implications pertaining to South Africa, India and Switzerland – May 2009
  • Subproject 3: The politics of care, welfare and social cohesion: intersectional perspectives on redistributive and liberal welfare regimes in a global context. A South African – Swiss Joint Research Seminar at the University of Basel – May 2010.

Project Team
Stephan Meyer ( Manager in Switzerland, Gender Studies, University of Basel
Andrea Maihofer (Director in Switzerland, Gender Studies, University of Basel)
Tamara Shefer  (Director in South Africa, Women’s and Gender Studies, University of the Western Cape)
Thenjiwe Magwaza (Gender Studies, University of KwaZulu Natal)
Vasu Reddy (Gender and Development, Human Sciences Research Council)

Project Funding
Commission for Research Partnerships with Developing Countries – KFPE
Freiwillige Akademische Gesellschaft, Basel
National Research Foundation of South Africa 
Swiss Academy of Humanities and Social Sciences
Swiss National Science Foundation.

Projekt Period
10/2007 – 05/2010