Christa Kuljian

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Christa has joined WISER to work on a new book project about the drama of the Cradle of Humankind.  It will explore the stories of the people who put forward debates about science, race, politics and religion over the past century in this one particular place.  The book will not focus on the scientific discoveries alone, but will explore them again with a particular emphasis on the ironic context in which they were set, the religious and political fervor of apartheid that often rejected the science at its doorstep.  Also, the book will go behind the scenes to capture the human element of some of the conflicts and discoveries at the Cradle.

She was awarded the Ruth First Fellowship at Wits Journalism in 2010 and gave the Ruth First Memorial Lecture on the refugee crisis at the Central Methodist Church in Johannesburg, which led to her writing her first book Sanctuary: How an Inner-City Church Spilled onto a Sidewalk (Jacana 2013).  Sanctuary uses narrative nonfiction to tell the stories of many of the people who found themselves at the church with nowhere else to go.  The book also explores the dynamics of migration, poverty, xenophobia and policing in inner-city Johannesburg.  See 
Christa received her Master’s in Creative Writing from the University of the Witwatersrand in 2007 focusing on narrative nonfiction, with a thesis about Kliptown.  Her writing has appeared in publications including City Press, The Weekender, The Times, Mail and Guardian, New Contrast, Botsotso, Words etc., Digest of South African Architecture, JWTC’s The Salon, Social Dynamics, and African Studies.
Originally from Boston, Christa has worked to strengthen civil society and human rights.  In the 1980s, she worked for the South African Council of Churches as well as for Senator Edward Kennedy.  Christa was the Director of the C. S. Mott Foundation in South Africa from 1992-2003 where she worked to support scores of organisations working on legal rights, women’s development, strengthening community participation and the non-profit sector.
Christa holds a BA from Harvard (1984) and a Masters in Public Affairs from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton (1989).