MIA STRAND is a social scientist investigating how we can use arts-based participatory research methods to integrate indigenous and local knowledge systems in area-based ocean management.

Her main research interests include deconstructing the coloniality of knowledge production and development discourses, exploring arts-based methods to identify cultural heritage in ocean spaces and improving stakeholder engagement in ocean governance processes to move towards coastal justice.

She is also currently involved in projects investigating social-ecological systems approaches for improved stakeholder engagement in ocean and coastal mining projects, integrating local knowledge in marine spatial planning processes and developing transdisciplinary research practices for more equitable knowledge co-production.


BAYANDA LAQWELA is a registered PhD Sociology student in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology. His research is linked to the DSI-NRF South African Research Chair in Ocean Cultures and Heritage, under Prof Rose Boswell.  

His current PhD research explores the cultural and provisioning services of rural coasts/ocean as they contribute to the livelihood of rural people. It focuses on youth  and institutional perspectives, responding to coastal development. His field work will take place on the Wild Coast in the Pondoland region. 

His other research interests include youth-subcultures, rural livelihoods and community development.


SAGANDIRA JOYLEEN L is a graduate intern at the University of Zimbabwe's Innovation Hub, focusing on finding modern ways of cultural heritage utilisation and conservation strategies. She holds an MA in Heritage Studies (University of Zimbabwe - 2021) as well as a BA in Archaeology (University of Zimbabwe - 2019).

Recognising and analysing social and cultural relationships, especially considering the history of a country or region and its people, has become a passion for her affecting the way she thinks, interacts and lives.

She is passionate about the integration of archaeology and anthropology as they are fundamentally connected both to each other and to the initial formation of our perception of society in general. They can answer many fundamental questions about our own existence, drawing from both scientific and historical sources of information to give us a clearer understanding of our origins, as well as the society we live in.


ELENA PEREZ-ALVARO is a NRF SARCHI Postdoctoral Fellow at Nelson Mandela University, South Africa with the UID grant number 129962. She is an Expert Member of the International Committee for Underwater Cultural Heritage at ICOMOS and Blue Shield Representative for ICOM UK, acting as a liaison between organisations to protect cultural heritage during conflict, including humane and natural disasters.

She is an accredited and authorised Associate Professor by the Minister of Universities of the Spanish Government and she works as a Professor in the Master of Cultural and Natural Heritage and as a Director of masters’ dissertation for the Master of Cultural Management at the International University of La Rioja (Spain). She has extensive experience as a marine heritage consultant and researcher. She is the author of the book underwater Cultural Heritage: ethical concepts and practical challenges (Routledge).

TERRY ADAMS 26, is a born-and-bred Port Elizabethan and currently a second-year Doctorate of Anthropology student at Nelson Mandela University.

Presently, her doctoral research project is entitled 'An Investigation of The Conceptualisation and Practices of Organ Donation in The Catholic Church in Port Elizabeth, South Africa'. This study seeks to explore how factors, such as beliefs and practices in the Church, especially surrounding death, the body, disfigurement, and burial rites influence parishioners' acceptance or objection to organ donation.

Her broader research interests include medical anthropology, forensic anthropology, social anthropology, and cultural diversity in Southern Africa.


RINA SIYENGWA worked as a researcher at the University of York (UK) looking at the motivation of the public to become involved in monitoring the environment in terms of air quality and other pollution issues.

Rina is an environmental scientist by background and has experience working for the National Commission on Research Science and Technology (NCRST) in Namibia as a Science and Technology Officer, responsible for the identification and implementation of science projects in the country. She also worked as a Standards Officer at the Namibia Standards Institute (NSI) facilitating standards development in the fields of environmental management and climate change.

She holds a BSc in the field of Environmental Biology from the University of Namibia and a master's in the field of Social Change and Development - majoring in Sustainable Development. Her current research at Mandela University will look at an assessment of issues affecting the ability of Small-Scale Marine-Based Resource users to operate sustainably in the Erongo Region of Namibia.


RYAN PILLAY is the Deputy Director of Arts, Culture and Heritage at Nelson Mandela University and works as a Researcher and Project Manager in the NRF Chair for Ocean Cultures and Heritage and the One Ocean Hub.

He has extensive teaching experience in both the TVET and Higher Education sectors. His undergraduate and postgraduate studies in Sociology and Political Science deal with areas of gender, heritage, memory and place. His work in Higher Education on transformation, gender, culture and language allows for the interrogation of voices to be heard.

Through this social enquiry, he has designed, facilitated and documented over 100 processes in both the public and private sector. Ryan has a special interest in using visual participatory methods to allow voices to surface and has a keen interest in the arts.

He currently serves as Trustee on the Board of the South End Museum and the Gcina Mhlope Trust in South Africa.


DR JESSICA LEIGH THORNTON is a research social anthropologist and post-doctoral grantee of the National Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Pretoria, South Africa. Dr Thornton is Project Manager and Lead Researcher for the NRF Nelson Mandela University Research Chair in Ocean Cultures and Heritage and for the One Ocean Hub research group.

In 2015 and 2016, she served as Project Manager for a SAPS research project on gangsterism and for a South African LOTTO funded project entitled ‘Moments in Time: Field Guides to Heritage in the Eastern Cape Province’, respectively.

Both her post-doctoral and PhD studies focused on the experiences of crime, punishment and rehabilitation.


DR NINA RIVERS is a marine anthropologist with a broad research interest in knowledge integration in ocean governance. Her previous work explored how to develop a truly collaborative and inclusive marine spatial plan (MSP) for Algoa Bay on the eastern coast of South Africa.

Her research forms part of the Algoa Bay Project, a consortium of researchers working towards an holistic and co-developed MSP which includes biophysical, legal, and socio-economic components.

As part of her work with this project and the One Ocean Hub, her current research investigates pathways to integrate indigenous and local knowledge systems into area-based management approaches like MSP, marine protected areas (MPAs) and integrated coastal management (ICM).


DOMINIQUE SANTOS is a Senior Lecturer in Anthropology at Rhodes University and Course Co-Ordinator for the Postgraduate Diploma in Heritage Management. Her scholarly work explores the intersections of music, play, dreaming and heritage practices with intimate experiences of the self, space and social change. 

She is interested in the place of dreaming and indigenous knowledge systems as speculative methodology when working with life stories, archives and heritage sites.  Her anthropological trajectory has been, following Sylvia Wynter, informed by a commitment to ‘unsettle the coloniality of being’, connecting the university as a public and intellectual space with the wider community and natural world it is part of. 

To this end, she has worked with children,organisations in underserved communities and public organisations on projects to occupy space playfully, establish sustainable food systems rooted in the recovery of self-esteem and joy, and re-think monuments and collections, supporting creative interventions that permit alternative modes of experiencing space, self and society to emerge.  Dominique combines academic inquiry with award-winning community engagement and artistic practice to generate conditions for collaborative anthropological approaches in community, heritage, public and exhibition spaces that effect social change for the greater good.


NOLUYOLO J GOQOZA-QWESHA holds a Master of Social Science Degree from Rhodes University and is currently pursuing a PhD with the Department of Sociology. 

She has wide research interests on the politics of gender, sociology of labour markets, and political economy with particular reference to the neoliberal restructuring of state owned enterprises.

Her current doctoral study is on the analysis of security threats in the sea ports of entry in the Eastern Cape (Gqeberha harbour; Port of Ngqura and East London harbour).


THOMAS TERBLANCHE is an academic with areas of interest including History of the Northern Areas (Gqeberha) and displacement, 20th Century political history, the historical development of the working class, history of ocean cultures, secularisation theory and South African politics.   

He is a History lecturer at Nelson Mandela University and a socio-political advisor to several leaders. He taught political science, international relations and research methodology at the Pearson Institute and was previously the operations officer and researcher at the Northern Areas People Development Initiative.

Thomas holds a BA (History and Political Science), BA(Hons) Political Studies – African Politics and Conflict Management and an MA (Political Studies).


DR PEDRO POMBO is Assistant Professor at Goa University and Associated Researcher at the Centre for Research on Slavery and Indentured, University of Mauritius. He received his PhD in Anthropology from ISCTE-IUL, Lisbon (2015) after graduating in 1998 in Decorative Arts and Design.

Pedro researches traces of Afro-Asian circulations through aesthetic and anthropological approaches, focusing on archival and material traces, heritages, visual landscapes and memories in the Indian Ocean. He is co-author of the documentary on Goans in Tanzania, “The Club”, with the film-maker Nalini Elvino de Sousa (2021).

He is an associated researcher with the Project Regions2050, WiSER, Wits University, South Africa and a 2021 Fellow of The Africa Multiple Cluster of Excellence, Bayreuth University, Germany.


JENTRIX CHOCHY SAKWA is an Anthropologist by profession, whose interest is centered around cultural heritage conservation.

She has experience in working with coastal communities in Mombasa and Malindi, Kenya. Through undergoing several UNESCO training sessions in Underwater Cultural Heritage in Africa, she has gained competency in underwater archaeology and coastal community engagement. In her engagement, she values integrity, ethics, and professionalism in research which has been her guiding principle throughout her work.

She is enthusiastic about the preservation of indigenous cultural heritage of coastal communities.


LUNGUI CHARLES VONZA was born and raised in Embu County, Kenya. He is a young anthropologist, passionate about culture and heritage conservation.

He loves working and interacting with communities in their natural context. Guided by professional and research ethics, he strongly believes that each person lives in his/her own world of thoughts, thinking and practices and accepting existence of such differences, humans can live in harmony.

His community studies are informed by relativism theory and belief that humans pass through different enculturation and acculturation processes.


FRANCOIS DU PLESSIS is a photographer by profession and worked as Mandela University's official photographer for 12 years before moving into academia. Francois now lectures in Photography and Videography. Fields of research include video analysis of sport technique.

He has a passion for the ocean and as a qualified Scientific Commercial Diver, has been actively involved in conservation efforts for a number of years.

Being part of the One Ocean Hub has given him the opportunity to be involved in finding out more about the ocean and the people who rely on the ocean.