Jaci van NiekerkJaci van Niekerk

PhD Student

Cederberg foodways: uncovering the social and cultural dimensions of remote, rural communities’ food systems.

Supervisors: A/Prof Rachel Wynberg and Dr Gareth Haysom


Having spent almost nine years working as a researcher in the EGS Department at UCT I finally took the leap to register for a PhD at the end of 2017.

In my study I will research the foodways of marginalised residents of the Cederberg, uncovering the social and cultural dimensions of their food systems. Formally, my aim is to conceptually locate foodways in the context of the food systems of remote, rural communities in the biodiverse global South. In order to address this aim, the following objectives will be explored: (1) to use inclusive and locally contextual methods to interrogate how people perceive and relate to food, (2) to examine the everyday eating habits of rural communities in the Cederberg, understanding why they are eating what they do, (3) to explore the extent of participants’ consumption of wild edible plants, and probe their cultural and social relevance (4) to investigate changes in participants’ foodways throughout living memory, and (5) to contribute new conceptual framings of foodways and its relation to wider food systems. In 2018 I plan to undertake data collection in the Cederberg as well as conduct an in-depth literature review.

Apart from my PhD studies I plan to continue working – providing administrative and technical support to the Bio-Economy Chair, which includes supervising post-graduate students and contributing to a post-graduate course on critical perspectives of the bio-economy. Outside of work and studies I love spending time with my three rescued dogs, hiking, clearing alien vegetation, reading, travelling, and gardening.