Sugar Girls & Seamen

Stemming from my research on South African port culture, I wrote Sugar Girls & Seamen: A Journey into the World of Dockside Prostitution in South Africa which illuminates a shadowy sex trade focused on the women of Cape Town and Durban who sell their hospitality to foreign sailors.

Dockside “sugar girls” work at one of the busiest cultural intersections in the world. Through their continual interactions with foreign seamen, they become major traffickers in culture, ideas, languages, styles, goods, currencies, genes and diseases. Many learn the seamen’s tongues, develop emotional relationships with them, have their babies and become entangled in vast webs of connection. In many ways, these South African mermaids are the ultimate cosmopolitans, the unsung sirens of globalisation.

Based on fifteen months of research at the seamen’s nightclubs, plus countless interviews with sugar girls, sailors, club owners, cabbies, bouncers and barmaids, this book provides a comprehensive account of dockside “romance” at the southern tip of Africa. Through stories, analysis and first-hand experiences, it reveals this gritty world in all its raw vitality and fragile humanity. Sugar Girls & Seamen is simultaneously racy and light, critical and profound.

Published by Jacana, 2008 / Ohio University Press 2011

Seeking Impact and Visibility

More recently, as a researcher with the Scholarly Communication in Africa Programme (SCAP) at the University of Cape Town, I was the lead-author of the book Seeking Impact and Visibility: Scholarly Communication in Southern Africa. It researches and addresses the challenge that many African scholars and universities face, in that their scholarly research is relatively invisible globally because, even though research production on the continent is growing in absolute terms, it is falling in comparative terms. Traditional metrics of visibility, such as the Impact Factor, also fail to make legible all African scholarly production. Unfortunately, many African universities also do not take a strategic approach to scholarly communication to broaden the reach of their scholars work.

To address this challenge, the Scholarly Communication in Africa Programme (SCAP) was established to help raise the visibility of African scholarship by mapping current research and communication practices in Southern African universities and by recommending and piloting technical and administrative innovations based on open access dissemination principles. To do this, SCAP conducted extensive research in four faculties at the Universities of Botswana, Cape Town, Mauritius and Namibia.

Published by the International Development Research Centre and African Minds, 2014