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Melissa Tandiwe Myambo

Research Associate, Southern Centre for Inequality Studies, University of the Witwatersrand, University of the Witwatersrand

Dr. Melissa Tandiwe Myambo is a Research Associate at the Southern Centre for Inequality Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand. She was a 2017 Johannesburg Institute for Advanced Study Writing Fellow. In 2016, she was the recipient of a Fulbright-Nehru Academic and Professional Excellence Award to conduct research in India where she was affiliated with the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies in Delhi. When the weather is warm, she lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Links to her other writings can be found on her website

Melissa has a PhD in Comparative Literature from New York University (NYU) and in addition to teaching comp lit courses, she has also lectured in sociology, area, global, migration and international development studies at University of California, Los Angeles; University of Cape Town and NYU. Most vitally, she is a group fitness instructor whose favorite classes to teach are dance, bootcamp and boxing.

Her current research project focusses on "frontier migration," a concept she formulated to analyze the move of people, capital, technology and ideas from a "developed" economy to a "developing" economy.

"Highly-skilled" migrants are moving from more “developed” countries such as the U.S. to the “developing” economies of China, India, and South Africa. Melissa asks why these frontier migrants are heading to the “global South” and examines the microspaces or "cultural time zones" - another concept she formulated - in which they work, live and socialize in their new homes.

Within contemporary frontier migration, she also explores frontier heritage migration— the African and Asian diasporas raised in Euro-America who are now “returning” to their globalizing homelands.

Since colonial times, frontier migrants have been fundamental to what we now experience as cultural-economic globalization. Today’s multi-ethnic, middle-class frontier migrants are responding to and creating the "frontier capitalism" that is currently transforming the global economy.

Her research has also been enabled by two generous postdoctoral fellowships. She was a Vice-Chancellor's Postdoctoral Research Fellow at University of Cape Town and then a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the “Cultures in Transnational Perspective”
Program and Visiting Assistant Professor at University of California in Los Angeles in the Dept of Comp Lit and the International Development Studies program.


  • –present
    Fublright-Nehru Scholar, Research Associate, Centre for Indian Studies, Wits University, University of California, Los Angeles