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Panel discussions on the future of work

FROM 15 August to 12 September, JIAS will host four high-level panel discussions on the future of work. The series is aimed at providing South African role players with an opportunity to discuss the nature and implications of the far-reaching technological changes under way in the workplace in South Africa as well as globally.

Analysts and practitioners alike have increasingly come to realise that the technological changes driving the Fourth Industrial Revolution will profoundly affect the world of work, and therefore human societies in general. Societies which quickly grasp and come to terms with these changes will stand a better chance of adapting to them in the longer term.

In this series, representatives of government, business, organised labour and academia will share their views and experiences of the changing nature of work, and what the technological changes driving the Fourth Industrial Revolution hold for work and the future. Participants will include Prof Tshilidzi Marwala, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Johannesburg.

The panel discussions will be held at JIAS in Westdene, Johannesburg, on four Wednesdays from 15 August to 12 September 2018 at 16h30 in the afternoon. The discussions will last for 90 minutes, followed by informal discussions over refreshments. Details of each panel discussion appear below.

PANEL 1: WHAT’S FACT AND WHAT’S FANTASY ? (Wednesday 15 August 2018)

This opening panel will discuss the broad changes involved in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, their implications for the future of work, and whether South Africa is capable of addressing them. Panelists will include Prof Tshilidzi Marwala, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of UJ, and Enoch Godongwana, chairperson of the ANC NEC Economic Transformation Sub-committee.

PANEL 2: TRADE UNION PERSPECTIVES (Wednesday 22 August 2018)

This panel will consider the views of workers on the implications of the Fourth Industrial Revolution for the future of work, and what trade unions are doing to secure their members’ futures. Panelists will include representatives of COSATU, FEDUSA, NACTU and SAFTU.

PANEL 3: BUSINESS PERSPECTIVES (Wednesday 5 September 2018)

Besides offering industry-specific views, business leaders on this panel will explore ways in which business and society can prepare for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Panelists will include Sipho Maseko, CEO of Telkom; M D Ramesh, President and Regional Head for Southern and Eastern Africa of Olam International; and Yolisa Kani, Head of Public Policy, Uber South Africa.


This panel will consider the implications of the Fourth Industrial Revolution for tertiary institutions. Panelists will discuss whether universites should only teach science and technology, whether the humanities have a future, and the extent to which universities should collaborate with industry. Panelists will include Prof Babu Paul of UJ, Prof Ruksana Osman of the University of the Witwatersrand, and Prof Robin Crewe of Pretoria University.


The panel discussions are open to all, but seating will be limited. To secure your attendance at all or any of these discussions, please contact Emelia Kamena at Attendance of the whole series is encouraged.


To download a comprehensive background document with the full panel schedule, click here.


Parking at JIAS is limited, and parking in Tolip Street is not secure. Therefore, please park at the UJ Astro Hockey Club in nearby Radnor Street, Westdene. This parking is secure. A shuttle will take you to JIAS, and return you to your vehicle. It will run for an hour before each panel discussion, and for three quarters of an hour thereafter. For directions and a map, click here.

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Book edited by Melissa Myambo

Routledge has released a book entitled Reversing Urban Inequality in Johannesburg, edited by former JIAS Writing Fellow Melissa Tandiwe Myambo. It forms part of the Routledge Contemporary South Africa series, aimed at publishing original, high-quality work by both new and established scholars on all aspects of South Africa.

Melissa is a Research Associate at the Centre for Indian Studies in Africa (CISA) and an Honorary Research Fellow at the Wits City Institute. She holds a PhD from New York University, and was a JIAS Writing Fellow in 2017.


With the spread of capitalism – a socio-economic system that produces both wealth and poverty simultaneously – the spatial dynamics of the “global(izing)” city are creating more division between social classes, not less. This means that in the 21st-century, large cities around the world exhibit intensifying spatial inequality taking the form of a wealthy, privileged urban core ringed by a periphery of lower-income denizens far removed from the city’s resources and amenities.

This trend toward swelling socio-spatial division is especially pronounced in cities purporting to be “global”, or in the case of Johannesburg, South Africa’s financial capital, a “world-class African city.” Ironically, Johannesburg’s historical legacy of immense spatial inequality thanks to apartheid is the direction in which most “global(izing)” cities such as New York, Cairo, London, Shanghai, New Delhi, Jakarta, Lagos, Berlin, and São Paulo are headed. The globalization of neoliberal urban policy has made the city less welcoming, liveable, accessible and friendly for lower-income city residents.

This book asks if Johannesburg can unstitch its complex urban fabric to create a city with more democratic public transport, affordable housing in desirable locations and safe, socially and racially integrated public spaces. These pithy, solidly researched, accessibly written essays are instructive for all those who are interested in questions of spatial justice, urban development, history and planning and the general goal of making cities more livable and accessible for urban dwellers of all income levels.

To go to the Routledge website, and to preorder, click here.




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JIAS Writing Fellowships 2019: Call for Applications

The Johannesburg Institute for Advanced Study (JIAS) invites applications for its Fourth Writing Semester, which will run from 4 February to 31 May 2019.

Fellowships are open to any field of expertise. Previous Writing Fellows have included academics, novelists, scientists, poets, playwrights, independent researchers and journalists.

JIAS Writing Fellows enjoy a quiet space for work, reflection and academic community-building amidst the Melville Koppies of Johannesburg.

Each Writing Fellow will receive:

  • Accommodation in our private residential suites at JIAS;
  • Daily breakfast and lunch;
  • Access to the facilities of the nearby University of Johannesburg; and
  • A monthly stipend.

To apply, please submit a two-page proposal, a comprehensive CV, and the names and contact details of three referees to before 14 September 2018.

To download a printable version of this Call for Applications, click here.

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JIAS Deputy Director appointed

Dr Bongani Ngqulunga, academic, public sector administrator and author, has been appointed as Deputy Director of JIAS.

Prior to joining JIAS, he worked in the South African Presidency for more than a decade. He holds a PhD in Sociology from Brown University in the United States, and three degrees from the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

His appointment at JIAS became effective in June 2018.

In June 2018, Dr Ngqulunga also won the Alan Paton Award for non-fiction for his book The Man Who Founded the ANC: A Biography of Pixley ka Isaka Seme (Penguin, 2018). Read more

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JIAS Deputy Director wins Alan Paton Award

Dr Bongani Ngqulunga at the Sunday Times Literary Awards ceremony in Johannesburg on 23 June 2018.

Dr Bongani Ngqulunga, newly appointed Deputy Director of JIAS, has won the Alan Paton Award for non-fiction for his book The Man Who Founded the ANC: A Biography of Pixley ka Isaka Seme. He received the award at a gala dinner held in Johannesburg on Saturday 23 June 2018.

A former JIAS Writing Fellow, Harry Kalmer, won the Barry Ronge Fiction Prize for his book A Thousand Tales of Johannesburg. Both titles are published by Penguin Books.

These two prizes constitute the Sunday Times Literary Awards, regarded as the most prestigious literary accolade in South Africa.

The Alan Paton Award judging panel consisted of the Constitutional Court Judge Edwin Cameron, the journalist Paddi Clay, and the award-winning writer, journalist and filmmaker Sylvia Vollenhoven.

In their citation, they said Dr Ngqulunga’s book was ‘a revelatory, inspiring study of a man and a movement that reverberates right up to today. It is a scholarly, well-researched book that illuminates our flawed roots and our flawed nationhood, presented through the complex and mercurial character of Seme.’

The Barry Ronge Fiction Prize panel comprised the radio personality Africa Melane, Love Books owner Kate Rogan and the award-winning writer Ken Barris.
In their citation, they stated: ‘Johannesburg emerges as a fascinating beast of a city, and this is a novel way of celebrating it. The outstanding writing and innovative structure – along with memorable characters – make this an instant classic.’

The prize-winners each received R100 000.

For an article on the Sunday Times Books Live website, click here.

For an article on the University of Johannesburg website, click here.

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Month-long residencies: Call for applications

JIAS is offering month-long residencies, effective November 2018, to academics, writers, journalists, playwrights and independent researchers.

Successful applicants will have ample time for creative work in the secure and tranquil setting offered by JIAS in Westdene, Johannesburg, as well as daily opportunities to engage with fellow residents. The residency will include a daily breakfast.

If you are interested, kindly forward a copy of your CV, the names and contact details of three referees, and a proposal of 500 words outlining the work you intend to do to by 31 August 2018.

To download the call for applications, click here.

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Visit to the Cradle of Humankind

The JIAS group outside Maropeng, the visitor’s centre at the Cradle of Humankind.

On 18 May, seven 2018 JIAS Writing Fellows visited the Cradle of Humankind, the World Heritage Site north west of Johannesburg in Gauteng province.

This excursion has become an annual event. This year, it was led by Dr Ian McKay of the Evolutionary Studies Institute at Wits University.

The group first took a guided tour of the Sterkfontein Caves, and then returned to the visitor’s centre, Maropeng, where they explored the museum and other features. Following lunch at the Centre, the group returned to Johannesburg.

Layers of history

Following the visit, Hsuan Chou commented as follows:

‘While a mere hour away from Johannesburg, the Sterkfontein Caves are quite otherworldly. Descending into the caves is like walking through layers of history, with each stratum containing its own unique stories.

‘The approach to the cave entrance was marked with plaques highlighting and explaining the life forms found in the area. There was one about the famous ‘Mrs Ples’, Australopithecus africanus, who may have been male or female.

And, of course, there was ‘Little Foot’, 3.6 million years old, and the most complete fossil of Australopithecus ever discovered to date.

‘What impressed me the most was the imagination required to understand what life was like for those who came before us.

‘We were fortunate to be accompanied by Dr McKay, who described the challenges of archaeological digs in the cave, where body size really matters (slim and small are preferred).

‘The day ended with animated debates about the origins of mankind: evolution, or the creation of a higher being?’

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JIAS takes part in Polokwane Literary Fair

By Emelia Kamena

On 17–20 April 2018, a JIAS team, including some of our 2018 Writing Fellows, participated in the Polokwane Literary Fair in Limpopo. The Fair is a flagship project of the Department of Cultural Services of the Polokwane Municipality, in the provincial capital of Limpopo. JIAS has participated in this event every year since 2016.

The JIAS team comprised the director, Prof Peter Vale; Emelia Kamena, administrative assistant; and five Writing Fellows, namely Niq Mhlongo, Zukiswa Wanner, Amrita Shah, Hans Pienaar, and David Huang. Adam Brown, a visitor from Singapore, was also with the group. Most of these Writing Fellows are published authors, and they looked forward to the excursion with great anticipation.

Upon arrival, we were met at the City Library in Polokwane by our host, Malose Lekganyane of the Polokwane Municipality, and colleagues. We then attended an opening dinner with various guests and partners of the Literary Fair, including the directors of the City Library, and members of the offices of the Mayor of Polokwane and the Premier of Limpopo.

Day One

On the first day, Writing Fellows visited three high schools in Mankweng, 30 kilometres outside Polokwane, for an engagement with learners and to hand over books donated by JIAS. These schools were the Frans Mohlala Secondary School, the Mamabudusha High School, and the Ramashobohle High School. JIAS Fellows engaged with learners in their classrooms, and donated copies of their books.

Zukiswa Wanner also managed a workshop at the Polokwane City Library for 35 children aged ten and eleven.

In the evening, the Writing Fellows attended a conversation about language with academics and students from the University of Limpopo. Prof Peter Vale, Director of JIAS, gave a presentation about JIAS.

Day Two

The second day began with a visit to a local prison, where Writing Fellows engaged with more than 100 inmates. Readings were given, and inmates were provided with insights on how to produce written texts. It was agreed that an anthology of poetry written by the inmates would be published. JIAS and the City Library donated books to the Correctional Services Library.

In evening, the JIAS group attended a conversation about memory, this time with members of the local Timbuktu Book Club.

Comment by Zukiswa Wanner

‘I kicked off my JIAS Fellowship on the very first day by reading a story I had written for World Read Aloud Day to a thousand children in Mofolo Park in Soweto. While we ambitiously hoped that a million children would read that story aloud in South Africa, almost 1,3 million children ended up reading it.

‘It was gratifying to note that among the children who had read that story were children I workshopped on the art of storytelling at Polokwane Literary Festival. Not only had they read it, but they had creatively adapted it for stage, and performed it for me and other students during the Festival.

‘I also immensely enjoyed the prison visit, as our clients at Polokwane Correctional Services were not only well-read but asked incisive and insightful questions. I think this is an important part of the Festival, and both JIAS and Polokwane Municipality should ensure that this remains a permanent feature.’

Comment by Amrita Shah

‘Visiting Polokwane provided me and other Writing Fellows with a valuable opportunity both to observe life in South Africa and to interact with readers and budding writers.’

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Leadership changes at UJ and NTU Singapore

Important changes in leadership have taken place at the University of Johannesburg and Nanyang Technological University Singapore, which have jointly established JIAS.

At NTU Singapore, Professor Subra Suresh has succeed Professor Bertil Andersson as President, and at UJ, Professor Tshildzi Marwala has succeeded Professor Ihron Rensburg as Vice-Chancellor and Principal. Both assumed their duties on 1 January 2018. Prof Suresh was inaugurated on 22 February 2018, and Prof Marwala on 26 March 2018.

Prof Peter Vale, Director of, JIAS has commented as follows: ‘These appointments are important events for these universities, and for JIAS as well. This is underscored by both inaugural addresses, which reflect common themes which are of interest not only to these two institutions, but the broader community of higher education, both nationally and internationally, as well.

‘To celebrate this moment, JIAS, in collaboration with the College of Business and Economics at UJ, will host a series of seminars in the second half of the year on the future of work and its linkages with tertiary education, to which both Professors Suresh and Marwala will be invited to contribute.’

Prof Subra Suresh

More about Prof Suresh

Prof Suresh is an eminent American scientist, engineer and entrepreneur who was chosen in 2010 by then US President Barack Obama to lead the US National Science Foundation (NSF). He has joined NTU Singapore from Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), where he was President for the previous four years.

For a media release about Prof Suresh’s appointment, click here.
For a media release about his inauguration, click here.
To access his Inauguration Address, click here.

Prof Tshildzi Marwala

More about Prof Marwala

Prof Marwala is an eminent scholar with a distinguished academic and administrative record. He previously served as Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Research and Internationalisation at UJ, and Executive Dean of its Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment.

He is the holder of more than 45 honours and awards, including the Order of Mapungubwe, and was the first African engineer to be awarded the National Research Foundation’s President’s award.

For a media release about Prof Marwala’s appointment, click here.
For a media release about his inauguration, click here.
To access his Inaugural Address, click here.

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Interview with Zukiswa Wanner

THE International Woman has published a lengthy interview with the acclaimed South African writer Zukiswa Wanner, a 2018 JIAS Writing Fellow. Conducted by Edinah Masanga, the interview centres on Zukiswa’s latest book, Hardly Working: A Travel Memoir of Sorts, and her thoughts on self-publishing. To access the interview, click here.

An extract from Hardly Working: A Trravel Memoir of Sorts has been published by The Johannesburg Review of Books. To access the extract, click here.

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