Author Archive | jiasjobu

Writing across time and space: an evening with Fred and Sihle Khumalo

By Janet Remmington, 2018 JIAS Resident

On Tuesday 20 November, the 2018 JIAS Residents arranged a round table discussion with the prominent South African writers Fred Khumalo and Sihle Khumalo. We opened with readings from their latest books, both published by Penguin South Africa.

The two made a dynamic pair, riffing off of each other’s work, and engaging with the group. Fred had also acted as editor of Sihle’s book.

Fred Khumalo’s Dancing the Death Drill (2017) travels back to the sinking of the 1917 troop ship the SS Mendi in which 600 black South Africans lost their lives, and to 1958 Paris to follow the story of a fictional survivor.

Sihle Khumalo’s Rainbow Nation My Zulu Arse (2018) carries the reader in provocative, humorous, and insightful fashion from Gauteng to Limpopo and then through South Africa’s seven other provinces in an attempt to get to grips with his home country 24 years after the political transition.

The conversation then turned to following tracks, whether historical or geographic, leading to forgotten people and places, and to those excluded from dominant discourses. In other words, to tell the unheard stories, and to move us beyond our everyday positions.

Cemeteries became an unexpected focus, resonating across both books: the War fallen, those not duly remembered, including many women, and the varying states of graveyards and memorials in South Africa.

Fred and Sihle talked about working up their story-telling strategies by engaging with the historical novel and travelogue genres respectively. We all reflected on the ways in which the past persists in the present – it’s all around us – but also on how so many gaps and unknowns remain to be recuperated, reimagined, and brought to life today. For an unforgettable evening, a warm thank-you to JIAS and to the unstoppable Khumalos.

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Spring seminar on decolonising the curriculum

On Friday 2 November 2018, Prof Catherine Manathunga of the University of Sunshine Coast in Australia led a seminar at UJ entitled ‘Decolonising the curriculum: reflections on transforming doctoral education through Southern higher education research’.

The seminar formed part of the UJ Postgraduate School Spring Seminar Series, and was hosted by JIAS and the UJ Postgraduate School.


While calls to decolonise the curriculum have been occurring for decades, particularly through postcolonial, feminist and Indigenous research, universities even in the global South remain very slow to draw upon this research to actively work to transform doctoral education and teaching and learning. Indeed, the recent domination of university cultures by neoliberal and globalising capitalism has made this mission even more challenging. Global inequities in knowledge production continue to become further entrenched and Northern knowledge systems seem to be becoming more dominant (Peters, 2015 Connell, 2017; Connell et al 2017).

The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) is a key site where contested postcolonial histories, geographies and epistemologies play out sometimes in quite dangerous ways. Therefore, we need to draw upon a robust array of theoretical resources if we are to decolonise the curriculum and create spaces for Southern research to flourish, for research-based quality teaching and learning, and for universities to engage in effective community engagement with all of the ethnic communities represented in our postcolonial local and national contexts.

In this keynote presentation, I outline the postcolonial/decolonial theoretical framework I draw upon to explore a series of key strategies to decolonise the curriculum (Manathunga 2018). I will interrogate each of these strategies further, seeking practical examples from a range of Southern locations. I will conclude by inviting the audience to debate further how genuine decolonisation of the curriculum might be achieved in their own disciplines and universities.

For more about Professor Catherine Manathunga and the UJ Postgraduate School Spring Seminar Series, click here.

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Human Rights Webinar

The International International Human Rights Network of Academies and Scholarly Societies (HR Network) has released a resource guide entitled Engaging with Human Rights in the National Academy Context.

To accompany the release, the HR Network has produced a webinar that highlights key themes addressed in the guide.

Speakers from several national academies participating in the HR Network shared their views on the relevance of human rights for national academies and discussed different ways in which academies regularly engage with human rights in the course of their work. They include Prof Peter Vale, director of JIAS, and a member of the Academy of Science of South Africa. The other speakers are:

  • Abdallah S Daar, a Executive Committee Member of the HR Network
  • Martin Chalfie, Chair of the Committee on Human Rights of the US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine
  • Esther Mwaikambo, Past President of the Tanzania Academy of Sciences
  • Hans-Peter Zenner, Chairman of the Human Rights Committee of the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina.

The HR Network is an international consortium of honorary societies in the sciences, engineering, and medicine with a shared interest in human rights.

Created in 1993, it advocates in support of colleagues suffering human rights abuses, promotes the free exchange of ideas among scientists and scholars, and supports the independence and autonomoy of national academies and scholarly societies worldwide.

To access the webinar, click here.

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Workshops on High Ability and Talent Development

On 5 and 6 October 2018, the South African Institute on High Ability and Talent Development held two workshops at the University of Johannesburg.

The workshops were aimed at finding, engaging,  challenging and elevating advanced, talented and highly able learners.

This was a collaborative project between the Faculty of Education (UJ) and the University of Central Florida (UCF), Orlando, USA, in partnership with the Department of Educational Psychology in the Faculty of Education (UJ), the Johannesburg Institute for Advanced Studies (JIAS), and the School of Tourism and Hospitality (STH). The coordinators were Prof Juliet Perumal (UJ) and Dr Gillian Eriksson (UCF).

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Seminar on ‘The relativity of Bugs Bunny’

On Tuesday 6 November 2018, Prof Steven Karataglidis, a theoretical nuclear physicist at the University of Johannesburg, led a seminar at JIAS on ‘The Relativity of Bugs Bunny’.

Prof Karataglidis is a theoretical nuclear physicist in the Department of Physics at UJ. He obtained a PhD from the University of Melbourne in 1995, and worked in various locations before settling in South Africa in 2006. An avowed devotee of Chuck Jones since his childhood, he was the unofficial, unpaid, cartoon unhistorian of the Chuck Jones Gallery of Santa Fe which living in Santa Fe, New Mexico, from 1999 to 2002.

Prior to the seminar, he commented as follows:

‘You would be surprised where the applications of physics sometimes appear. I will present an overview of one of the most startling applications (or not, as the case may be) of the Laws of Physics, and of the influences that drove me and a number of my more enlightened colleagues to become physicists. Come prepared for some interesting discussions, as well as some fun.’


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Seminar led by Prof Alan Chan of NTU Singapore

On Tuesday 9 October 2018, Prof Alan Chan, Vice President of Nanyang Technological University (NTU) Singapore, led a seminar at JIAS entitled ‘Science and Technology for Humanity: A Report from Singapore’.

Prof Chan reported on the activities of the NTU Institute of Science and Technology for Humanity (NISTH), a newly established Interdisciplinary Centre of Excellence at NTU, Singapore.

An initiative of the NTU’s new President, Prof Subra Suresh, its purpose is to address the social challenges arising from rapid technological change, notably those manifested in the course of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR).

To this end, the NISTH propels research and public discourse on the social context of scientific and technological innovation, as well as the consequences of technological interventions in society.

It champions interdisciplinary research on science and technology studies, and works to bring together academia, non-profit organisations, government and industry in navigating the complex course of social development.

This seminar was of particular interest to the UJ community as it focused on aspects of the 4IR – notably its implications for the human experience – which has become a dominant theme at the university. It also provided academics at UJ with an opportunity to explore the possibilities of collaborating with the NISTH.

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Trevor Manuel opens Colloquium

THE Colloquium on Digital Finance in Africa was opened on 22 October 2018 by Mr Trevor Manuel, former South African Minister of Finance. His keynote address was followed by a panel discussion on ‘The Impact of Digital Finance on Africa’s Growth’.

The panelists were Mr Nnamdi Oranye, founder of Disrupting Africa and fin-tech author, and Mr Stephen Mwaura Nduati, an international technology consultant. The discussion was chaired by Prof Saurabh Sinha, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of Johannesburg. A reception followed.

The opening was attended by about 150 people. An edited version of Mr Manuel’s opening address will be posted soon. To view the webcast on the UJ YouTube channel, click on the link below.



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Lecture on Mandela as a lawyer

Nelson Mandela as attorney in the offices of Mandela and Tambo. Picture: Jurgen Schadeberg

On 25 September 2018, JIAS and the UJ Faculty of Law, in partnership with the UJ Library, hosted a public lecture entitled ‘Mandela as a Lawyer’.

The keynote speaker was Advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi, and the discussant was former Constitutional Court Judge Albie Sachs.

For an edited video of the event on the UJ YouTube channel, click here.

For full-length webcasts on the UJ YouTube channel, click on the links below.

Part 1:

Part 2:

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JIAS is expanding

No 5 Tolip Street, Westdene, which has been purchased to expand the JIAS complex.

The University of Johannesburg had purchased a property next to the existing JIAS complex in Tolip Street, Westdene. Following renovations, this property will be used to house the JIAS administrative staff, and also to provide more parking. The existing administrative building at no 1 Tolip Street will be used to create more accommodation.

According to Prof Peter Vale, Director of JIAS, the purchase has resulted from rising levels of activity at JIAS over the past five years. ‘We are grateful that the UJ administration has recognised this, and has decided to expand our capacity. This bodes well for JIAS going into the future.’

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