IN early December, Jan Vasbinder and Prof Alexander Zehnder from the NTU visited JIAS to discuss and help plan the JIAS programme for 2016 / 7. From left to right are Prof Peter Vale, Director of JIAS; Jan Vasbinder; Estelle Prinsloo, research assistant; and Prof Zehnder.
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ON 8-10 September 2015, JIAS hosted a workshop entitled ‘Johannesburg: Performative Urbanisms: fighting for and over the city; expressing the city; knowing the city’.
It was co-organised by JIAS, the Wits City Institute, La Trobe University of Melbourne, the Chair of Culture and Society at Curtin University in Perth, and the journal Thesis Eleven. The workshop took place over three days, with a single theme addressed every day.
‘The politics of urban life’
The theme for day one was ‘The politics of urban life: private confessions’. Presentations were made by Koketso Moeti (Local Government Alliance), Maurice Smithers (community activist), Kelly Kropman (Legal Resources Centre), Christa Kuljian (author), Lisa Vetten (Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research), Erica Emdon (Probono), Jacob van Garderen (Lawyers for Human Rights), Tish White (Safe Zones@Wits & Varsity Pride), Harry Kalmer (author), Lauren Royston (Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa), and Munyaradzi Masunga (SWEAT and Sonke Gender Justice).
‘Expressing the city’
The theme for the second day was ‘Expressing the city: the performance of everyday urbanisms’. Presentations were made by Prof Alan Mabin (UP), Mpho Matsipa (Wits City Institute), Nicholas Clarke, Cynthia Kros (UP), Georges Pfruender (Technical University of Northwestern Switzerland), Nduka Mntambo (UJ), Yohann Quëland de St Pern (College of the Arts of la Réunion), Jason Cohen (Wits University), Judy Backhouse (Wits University), Mitchell Hughes (Wits University), Danai Mupotsa (Wits Universitiy), Danielle Bowler (Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflecting), Kavuli Nyali (goodhairdiaries.com), John Higgins (UCT), Christine Dixie (Rhodes Universitiy), James Sey (UJ), Harry Kalmer (author), Noeleen Murray (Wits City Institute), Pia Bombardella (NWU), Detlev Krige (UP) and Jade Gibson.
‘The mediated city’
The theme for the third day was ‘The mediated city: how do we know the city?’ Presentations were made by Prof Trevor Hogan (La Trobe University), Julian Potter (La Trobe University), Dr Sian Supski (Monash University) and Prof Peter Beilharz (Curtin University).
Work on a publication emanating from the workshop is proceeding.
THE JOHANNESBURG Institute for Advanced Studies (JIAS) was launched on 14 May 2015 via a founding meeting, a plaque unveiling ceremony, and a panel discussion featuring local and visiting scholars from the founding institutions, the University of Johannesburg (UJ) and the Nanyang Technological University (NTU).
The day’s events start with the founding meeting, held at the JIAS premises in Westdene, Johannesburg, and jointly chaired by Prof Ihron Rensburg, Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Johannesburg; and Professor Bertil Andersson, president of the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) of Singapore.
Other participants included Professor K K Phua, director of the NTU Institute for Advanced Study; Professor Tshilidzi Marwala, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research, Postgraduate Studies & Library) at UJ; Dr Yu-Hyun Park of the President’s Office at the NTU, and Professor Peter Vale, director of JIAS. This was followed by a launch and plaque unveiling ceremony at the JIAS premises in Westdene.
In a keynote address at the plaque unveiling ceremony, Prof Rensburg said the establishment of JIAS illustrated the university’s determination to become a ‘pan-African epicentre of critical and intellectual enquiry’.
While scholars would be left to pursue their own ends and interests, JIAS would be expected to to deliver work ‘of the highest creative order’, that would deepen understandings of issues across every sphere of knowledge.
Let me sharpen the point: the standard we expect from this initiative is a gold standard, and we will make no apology for the fact that we will try to populate as much of its activities as possible with Nobel Laureates and, in the humanities, Holberg Prize Winners,’ Prof Rensburg said.
He added that JIAS would also seek to forge partnerships with other institutions of higher education in Gauteng and elsewhere in the country.
An edited version of Prof Rensburg’s address can be downloaded here.
A panel discussion featuring local and visiting scholars was held at UJ later the same day. Entitled ‘The Next 25 Years’, it comprised discussions of the following themes:
- ‘The University’, intrduced by Prof Bertil Anderson of NTU;
- ‘The Environment’, introduced by Prof Alexander Zehnder of NTU;
- ‘Complexity and Anthropocene’, introduced by Prof Stephen Lansing of NTU;
- ‘Society’, introduced by Prof Achille Mbemwe of Wits University;
- ‘Engineering’ introduced by Prof Saurabh Sinha of UJ; and
- ‘Equality / Inequality, introduced by Prof Fiona Tregenna, also of UJ.