Alice Clarfelt, MSc, MA

SASH Fellow 2016-2017



Alice is a PhD student registered at the Department of Psychology at the University of Cape Town and is currently conducting her research in the rural Eastern Cape. Her research interests include gender, sexuality, social identities, youth, HIV prevention and participatory methods. Alice is interested in inter-disciplinary engagement with other researchers, especially around the subjects of gender, sexuality, youth and HIV prevention. She wants to engage with other researchers and academics in the field in a way that will lead to a cross-fertilization of ideas and approaches. She anticipates that the diversity of academic expertise that the SASH programme offers, together with allocated spaces for discussion and reflection, will contribute to her PhD study as well as more broadly in her research career.

Research Topic

 “How can Theatre of the Oppressed be used to explore gender identities amongst South African youth? A case study of a sexual health peer education programme”

Alice is using “Theatre of the Oppressed” as theorised by Augusto Boal as a participatory action research method to explore the inter-subjective construction of gender identities amongst young peer educators engaged in sexual health education in the rural Eastern Cape. While the importance of working with young people to build gender equitable identities is now widely acknowledged as key to HIV prevention programmes, more research is needed to understand the nuanced dynamics of how such identities are constructed, especially in contexts of socio-historical oppression. Theatre of the Oppressed draws significantly on Paulo Friere’s thinking around critical consciousness and social transformation: It has the combined function of a) deepening insight into young people’s critical understandings of gender identities and b) understanding the transformational potential of a critical pedagogical approach to working with youth and gender, sexuality and development. Alice is working with the youth development agency “Restless Development” to conduct her research with peer educators.