Sonia Rupcic

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Michigan, Ann Arbor, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 9248

Approve Date

April 8, 2016

Project Title

Rupcic, Sonia Maria, U. of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI - To aid research on 'Redressing Sexual Wrongs in a Former South African Homeland,' supervised by Dr. Jatin Dua

SONIA RUPCIC, then a graduate student in University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, was awarded a grant in April 2016 to aid research on ‘Redressing Sexual Wrongs in a Former South African Homeland,’ supervised by Dr. Jatin Dua. Fieldwork was carried out to investigate how survivors of sexual violence seek remedy and recognition in post-apartheid South Africa, where rape has been called a ‘national nightmare.’ Across eighteen months of fieldwork in the town of Sibasa, South Africa, the researcher set out to answer three questions: 1) How do victims of wrongdoing seek remedy? 2) What is the relationship between different forums of redress? 3) How is wrongdoing constituted as transgression through forums of redress? Research was carried out in arenas more explicitly oriented toward safety and security: rape trials held at court, university disciplinary hearings, meetings of community groups, ‘tribal courts,’ trauma centers, victim offender dialogs. With an eye to understanding the difference between normative and transgressive sex, the researcher participated in the rhythms of daily life: visiting local salons to chat about sex, love and crime; going to public concerts and local night clubs; attending baby-showers, weddings, and funerals; interacting on social media. Methods included participant-observation, semi-structured interviews, and conversational journals, wherein conversations overheard in public spaces are documented anonymously. These methodologies enabled the tracking of biographies of sexual encounters through a variety of social spaces.