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Claudia Hirtenfelder

Master of Science in Social Studies of Gender

Claudia's story

Background

"Living and studying in Lund was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life! My name is Claudia Hirtenfelder and in August 2011 I was given the opportunity through an Erasmus Mundus Scholarship to complete my MSc in the Social Studies of Gender majoring in Political Science at Lund University. This was to be a watershed time in my life which helped me to question my knowledge to its core and to explore a field of study I knew little about."

Why Social Studies of Gender?

"Gender studies is a field that often illicit a surprised and somewhat confused response of 'Oh, that’s interesting!' And it is! Gender Studies, at Lund, was primarily about the study of power relations and inequality. It was about questioning our assumptions when it comes to how we speak and think about the world and the ways in which our bodies are located within it and through varying degrees of privilege or lack thereof. Gender Studies was, however, more than an academic endeavor - it was a personal journey too. Coming from South Africa, a rather conservative country in comparison to Sweden, I learned a lot about how life can be viewed and lived differently and I was excited to apply my knowledge at home upon completion of my degree in June 2013."

Life after

"Almost a year after my return to South Africa I have to wonder where the time has gone! It has been an amazing time of reconnecting with friends and planning a wedding (I was Claudia Forster-Towne when I was in Sweden) and professionally I have been busy too.

I spent a semester lecturing first year students about gender and sustainable development at the University of Johannesburg – within their Development Studies Department --before being hired as a researcher at the Africa Institute of South Africa (AISA). Finishing my first research job required some diligence and I sent my CV to several organisations before I had one bite. Since joining AISA in September 2013 I have spent some months preparing for a small project on ecotourism and gender relations in Botswana and in March 2014 I finished my fieldwork. I am happy that I am still able to work with theories and ideas which I became so intimate with while in Lund!

Prior to going to the field I had shared my ideas with a professor at the University of Johannesburg who was excited and encouraged me to pursue a second masters in Tourism which I am currently writing up. I guess I am a sucker for punishment but I believe I will never move away from studying and learning. I am currently exploring options for where I may be able to undertake a PhD which combines my interests in tourism, labour, and inequality – who knows, you might see me back in Lund in the not too distant future!"

Claudia Hirtenfelder