Dr Wendy Mapule Carvalho-Malekane
Education researcher, University of Pretoria
Dr Wendy Mapule Carvalho-Malekane’s mother is Spanish but was born and raised in Portugal. Her father is Tswana and a native of Pretoria. Carvalho-Malekane — who is based at the department of educational psychology in the faculty of education at the University of Pretoria (UP) — spent her childhood in Zambia and her adolescence in South Africa.
It is perhaps not surprising then that the title of Carvalho-Malekane’s PhD thesis, published last year, is “Racial identity as narrated by young South African adults with parents from different racial and national heritages”.
Carvalho-Malekane is one of South Africa’s leading young researchers in the field of biracial identity formation. Her work has been lauded by leading scholars in education, including Professor Joyce King (president-elect of the American Educational Research Association), who noted that her study contributed to a better understanding of the issues around identity construction faced by young biracial people, specifically in a race-conscious society such as South Africa.
“I identify myself as biracial and have had my own experiences of negotiating and constructing my biracial identity as a young adult in South Africa,” says Carvalho-Malekane (33). Last year, she was chosen as an inaugural fellow of the Tuks Young Research Leader Programme (TYRLP programme), which aims to grow early career academics at the University of Pretoria, in the areas of thought leadership, team development, engagement and collaboration.
She has also obtained research funds from the university’s research development programme to continue research on the topic of the identity development of children with parents from different racial backgrounds in post-apartheid South Africa (with a focus on children seven to 12 years old).
Racial identity scholarship is dominated by North American and European scholars, but Carvalho-Malekane’s vision is to change this by contributing to existing literature on racial identity, as well as through presenting her work at national and international conferences.
“I hope that my current and future research may provide valuable knowledge on how to plan and provide effective preventative interventions and treatment strategies for health practitioners, in order to promote the development of culturally sensitive practice models with multiracial, and multicultural individuals and interracial families within the South African and global context.” — Fatima Asmal