South African scholar Mathodi Motsamayi arrived at UW-Madison in early November with hopes of networking with other scholars and raising awareness of his research during his one-month residency. With one week left, he said he believed his visit has been successful.
Motsamayi is a PhD candidate in art history at the Centre for Visual Art at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. During his stay at UW-Madison, he has held the position of honorary associate in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences and is hosted by the Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems. His research focuses on art and culture’s relationship with the environment. He also studies the use of natural resources and sustainable practices in South Africa.
The scholar presented his research on several occasions while at UW-Madison. His goal for coming to UW-Madison was to share his knowledge with the university community, specifically professors and international students, and create opportunities for the international exchange of ideas. He spoke with 11 professors during his time on campus, which he said is usually difficult to do.
“During my stay here I’ve managed to speak to many faculty members and I was very impressed by these,” Motsamayi said. “Many professors were very interested in my studies. I’m hoping that after this visit I’ll be able to network. Maybe in the future we can have collaborations with some of the professors that I meet.”
Motsamayi said he decided to visit UW-Madison because of programs the university offers that join several disciplines together, something he does with his research—he studies art history, ecology, agriculture, anthropology, natural sciences and social sciences, among others. He is also interested in the “internationalization of scholarships” and bringing different cultures together in his studies, particularly relating to topics about the environment.
“I hope we use research not just for the sake of research, but use it to empower communities in which the research is taken,” Motsamayi said. “That’s our goal in the future. I hope that my visit here will be able to empower me so that when I go back home I will be able to empower other people, especially my colleagues.”