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     Dr Dominique Santos






Dominique Santos’s work explores the intersections of music, play, dreaming and heritage practices with intimate experiences of the self, space and social change. Her doctoral thesis used popular music as a lens to map the dynamics of social change in South Africa over several generations. Music was used as a device to track biographies and stories that explored the dynamic contours of race in 'mixed' communities, including domestic music making in a Scots-Mauritian family in the early apartheid years in Durban, the jazz scene of 1970’s and 1980’s in ‘grey’ areas of Johannesburg and kwaito sub-cultures in the western areas of Johannesburg in the 1990’s and early 2000’s.  Her more recent work has looked at how children and communities have occupied public spaces in London and Johannesburg to re-imagine the potential of human experience of place and space in the city. She has acted as an advisor for heritage and youth organisation Return to Origin and is currently developing the project ‘Dreams in Solitary’ on the place of dreaming in sub-conscious refusals of conditions of oppression.  Her anthropological trajectory has been informed by a commitment to ‘unsettle the coloniality of being’, connecting the university as a public and intellectual space with the wider community and natural world it is part of 

Community Engagement

Dominique worked extensively with Widening Participation at Goldsmiths to facilitate engagement with anthropology amongst young people in South East London between the ages of 10 – 18.  She won the Public Engagement award for her collaboration with Ntsiki McKay-Anderson and Daniel Hutchinson of the Hummingbird Play Association to create temporary Adventure Playgrounds in inner city Johannesburg.


She co-ordinated the Austerity Bites exhibition with Gabriela Nicolescu and Henrike Donner in Lewisham, South East London, exploring how food can map experiences of regeneration and austerity in  one of the most culturally diverse but also one of the most deprived areas of London. It has been particularly affected by the politics of austerity and food is materially and symbolically at the heart of the anxieties residents share. The exhibition formed part of a wider project of extensive interviews, workshops and interactions with groups of local residents.   

She has collaborated with the Swiss Arts Council and Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice at the University of the Free State to bring the 21:Memories of Growing Up exhibition by Matts Staub, Maia Marie and Nomunde Mbuse into the foyer of the UFS library,

providing a space of reflection on practices of inclusion in arts and culture. 



More recently, she contributed to the Atlas of Decivilisation installation by Holen Khan for the Geography of Hope Conference in California.

Selected Publications

“Fox Palaces: The Playful Occupation of a Johannesburg City Park” (2018)  in Children’s Geographies Vol 16 Issue 4


‘Rainbow Nation of the Flesh’(2018)  in Eating and Being Eaten: Cannibalism as Food for Thought (ed) Francis Nyamnjoh. Bamenda: Langaa RPCIG.


Book Review - Jesse Weaver Shipley, Living the hiplife: Celebrity and entrepreneurship in Ghanaian popular music (2015) Critique of Anthropology 35 (1)





Last Modified: Wed, 27 Jul 2022 15:48:34 SAST