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│By Nonkoliso Andiswa Tshiki, Gale Ambassador at the University of Johannesburg│
On a warm autumn afternoon in late May 2022, in the University of Johannesburg’s Library Project Room on the Auckland Park Kingsway Campus, I interviewed Bokhutlo Tlhabanelo, who is popularly known as Mickey. Mickey is a first year Master’s student and a tutor for the first year students enrolled on the undergraduate History course at the University of Johannesburg. In the interview, Mickey shared her holistic experience with Gale Primary Sources and the extent to which these resources have contributed to her research project.
Research Interests vs. Research Databases
For many postgraduate students, finding a topic for their research project which has numerous and easily accessible research materials makes their thesis writing journey much more endurable! Another aspect of settling on a research topic which can impact and result in the successful completion of a dissertation is choosing a topic that is closely aligned with one’s personal interests. When Mickey was asked what her personal research interests are, she explained:
“My research interests are on gender, women, patriarchy, oppression, the daily lives of women before the twentieth century, women’s apartheid resistance, women’s defiance of pass laws and polygamy [under the South African context].”
Next comes the tricky part – finding research databases that contain credible, accessible and relevant sources! Mickey stated in the interview that she felt extremely advantaged and privileged when I, as Gale’s student ambassador at the University of Johannesburg, and a friend and colleague to Mickey, told her about Gale Primary Sources. She added that she loved the Gale resources because they were easy to access via the University of Johannesburg library databases. “And because the Gale research materials are digitised, that made them more favourable for me during Covid-19, because I was able to access all the archival information remotely,” Mickey said.
During the interview, Mickey highlighted that she frequently searched for documents for her research project in both Women’s Studies Archive and Archives of Sexuality and Gender.
Relevant Primary Sources
I then went on to ask which specific documents stood out to Mickey from the Gale Primary Sources digitised research database and why.
Mickey replied, “the article by Cory Logan highlights the continuous battle against exploitation that black women have had to face for numerous years in the past and still face to this day. It further outlines the distinctions between the kinds of challenges that white and black women have had to deal with through the years. In addition, this document identifies the ignorance of white women in acknowledging and assisting black women in the fight against oppression. This particular document caught my attention because it addresses many of the issues that align with my research interests. The above mentioned article is not in the South African context, however the oppression and the obstacles that black women deal with globally overlap. Thus, this speaks to my research topic on a broad and general scale.”
The article above is written from the perspective of black African American women. Mickey commented in the interview that she felt that the role played by black South African women in the fight against oppression, exploitation, racial discrimination and marginalization was of great significance, and that she was hoping that her research project would incorporate more of the experiences and voices of black South African women. The following screenshot of an article that Mickey found very interesting and key for her thesis on the daily lives of black South African women.
Global Angles on Women and Gender Studies
Mickey concludes that Gale Primary Sources archives have contributed to her research, as she found materials that addressed her research topic. Although she would like to focus mostly on the South African context in her thesis, taking a broader approach to one’s research within Women and Gender Studies when conducting research also allows for consideration of global angles and development of a wider, richer understanding of the topic discussed.
I want to thank Bokhutlo for sharing her experiences and making the time to have a chat with me about her research. I wish her all the best with her Master’s journey and other endeavours.
If you enjoyed reading about Mickey’s use of Gale Primary Sources in her Master’s thesis, you might like:
- How Gale’s Archives Supported My Thesis on the Politics of Contraception in South Africa, 1970s–80s
- African Hairstyles – The “Dreaded” Colonial Legacy
- From Archive to Master’s Thesis – Linguistic Analysis of Nineteenth-Century Theatre Reviews in The Times
- How Gale Scholar helped with my Graduation Thesis
- How Gale Literature Provided Vital Support for My Dissertation
The Gale Review also offers lots of pieces about Gender Studies, and students’ interest in this area:
- Finding Black Female Authors in the Women’s Studies Archive
- A Male Contraceptive Pill – could this bring greater gender equality?
Blog post cover image citation: Image by Christina (@wocintechchat.com), available on Unsplash.com.