Sakhile Matlhare

Area(s) of Interest:  Cultural Sociology, Sociology of Art, Emotional Labor, Social Justice/Citizenship, African Studies, Applied Sociology

Dissertation Research
My dissertation explores the varying strategies of professional development and knowledge facilitation that contemporary artists working under the rubric of “African Contemporary art” in Berlin and New York City employ in their arrangements with curators, critics and other art consumers. This study investigates artists’ use of social theory and art practice in face-to-face, print and digital media interactions and identifies the concept of Africanness as a productively ambiguous misnomer.

Past Research

Recent research examines instances when cultural explanations simultaneously magnify and obscure emotional labor in interactive service work. Drawing from interviews with safari guides in northern Botswana, this case study explains the way guides manage their emotions during high-stress interactions with international customers. Findings show that Botho, a social contract of reciprocated respect, operates as an expressive-strategic device. Through Botho-in-action, guides describe emotionally taxing situations in interactive service-work as an opportunity for displaying social, cultural and professional competence in a fraught working environment when they are not able to depend on legal, organizational or national protective policies - Suggesting that emotional labor is not a zero-sum process purely embedded in economic exchange or self-sacrifice.

Awards/Honors
Morris Goodman Award (2014). Program of African Studies, Northwestern University.

Hans E. Panofsky Pre-Dissertation Award (2013, 2014). Program of African Studies, Northwestern University.

Gwendolen M. Carter and Kofi Annan Fellowship (2012). Program of African Studies, Northwestern University.

Conferences
Matlhare, Sakhile. 2014. “Part of Flora and Fauna: Botho and the Safari Guide in Northern Botswana.” Presented at the Annual Chicago Ethnography Conference, March 15, Evanston, IL.

Matlhare, Sakhile. 2013. “Part of Flora and Fauna: Botho and the Safari Guide in Northern Botswana.” Presented at the State, Society and Development in Africa Conference, May 17, Evanston, IL.