Archive | News

UBIAS calls for applications for ICA3

UBIAS (University-Based Institutes for Advanced Study) has called for applications to participate in the third UBIAS Intercontinental Academia (ICA) on ‘Laws: Rigidity and Dynamics’, to be held at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore in March 2018, and the University of Birmingham in March 2019.

The organisers are leading figures in the IAS at the NTU; the IAS at the University of Birmingham; the Hebrew University of Jerusalem; and the National University of Singapore.

They are seeking applications from early / mid-career researchers with research posts in academia, industry, charities, the arts, or other relevant sectors. Fifteen participants will be selected.

The call for Fellows is open from 15 June to 15 August 2017. Applications and informal enquiries should be submitted to

UBIAS is a network of institutes for advanced study across the world. The Institutes of Advanced Study at the University of Birmingham and NTU are UBIAS members.

Intercontinental Academia (ICA) is an initiative developed among members of the group for scientific exchanges between generations, discplines, cultures and continents around a specific topic or theme. ICA1 on the topic ‘Time’ was held at the University of Sao Paulo and Nagoya University in April 2015 and 2016, and ICA2 on the topic ‘Human Dignity’ at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Bielefeld University in March and August 2016 respectively.

For more  information and a detailed invitation, click here.

Continue Reading

Workshop on Dark Matter at the NTU

On 13 to 15 November 2017, the Institute of Advanced Studies At Nanyang Technological University in Singapore will hold a Topical Workshop on Dark Matter. All those interested are invited to attend.

The organisers have provided the following background information:

‘One of the most intriguing problems in present-day physics, astrophysics and cosmology revolves around the nature of dark matter – the dominant form of matter in the universe. Discovered first by pioneers such as Lundmark and Zwicky in the early decades of the last century, the prominence of the dark matter problem has become more acute in recent years. Theoretical and observational evidence agree that dark matter outweighs visible matter by at least five to one, but the identity of dark matter remains a mystery even now.

‘This workshop will feature the most up-to-date research in this field and introduce various candidates for dark matter. The axion is one such candidate proposed by Nobel Laureate Frank Wilczek, who will be at the workshop in person for discussion. The workshop will also cover the ongoing hunt for dark matter signatures at accelerators and in underground and space experiments, the verification of the existence of dark matter from studies of the cosmic microwave background, and new theoretical ideas about dark matter and dark energy paradigms.’

A registration website has been created. To access it, click here.

For enquiries, please email the conference secretariat at

Continue Reading

Last Night at the Bassline

Last Night At The Bassline, David B Coplan and Oscar Gutierrez, Jacana 2017

A BOOK written by David B Coplan, professor of social anthropology at the University of the Witwatersrand and a 2016 JIAS Writing Fellow, was launched in Johannesburg on Sunday 11 June 2017.

Entitled Last Night At The Bassline, it records the history of the iconic Johannesburg jazz club Bassline, which closed its doors in December 2016. The book features photographs by Oscar Gutierrez and other photographers.

The backtext reads as follows:

‘In 1994, Brad and Paige Holmes opened a small, live-music venue in the bohemian suburb of Melville in Johannesburg. They called it Bassline, which very soon became synonymous with cigarette smoke, great jazz and nights you wished would never end. They later moved the club to Newtown where it grew in prominence as the ultimate venue for live music, hosting amazing artists like Thandiswa Mazwai, Jimmy Dludlu, Lira, The Soil, and the Grammy Award-winning group Ladysmith Black Mambazo.

‘In 2016 word spread like wildfire that everyone’s favourite club was closing its doors; this place that had held all the promises of a new South Africa, a place where people of all races could come together, share a drink, dance and fall in love, was to be no more.

‘In this book, the esteemed music historian Professor David Coplan tells the story of Bassline and the Holmes’ journey with it, thus giving musicians and jazz fans something to hold on to even after its closure.

‘With more than 50 iconic photographs by Oscar Gutierrez and other photographers. The book is more than just a memoir. It is a gritty, smoky, passionate slice of time. Bassline will always be a reminder of what it feels like to live the impossible.’

David Coplan is a respected writer and filmmaker. He arrived in South Africa in the early 1970s as an anthropology researcher at the University of Cape Town. His first book, In Township Tonight, was a pioneering social history of urban black music, dance and theatre in South Africa. A friend of the Holmes’, he too found sanctuary at the Bassline when he moved to Johannesburg to take up a professorship at the University of the Witwatersrand. He was a JIAS Writing Fellow in 2016.

Oscar Gutierrez arrived in South Africa in 1994. As a photojournalist he has documented a great range of events and issues in politics, religion and music with an impressive client list that includes The Cape Town International Jazz Festival, The G8 Music Festival, the Orbit and Bassline. He has an extensive photographic collection of contemporary South African music.

Continue Reading

JIAS event at the NTU

LINKAGES between Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and JIAS were explored at an event at NTU in Singapore on Wednesday 12 April 2016.

Entitled ‘Exploring unique opportunities with JIAS: creating connections between Singapore and South Africa’, the event featured a presentation by Prof Peter Vale, Director of JIAS, during a month-long visit to the NTU.

Prof Vale introduced JIAS and its activities to the NTU community as well as other academics in Singapore. This was followed by an open discussion, and a casual networking dinner.

According to Prof Vale, the purpose of the event was to stimulate brainstorming and facilitate discussions that will help to establish new research agendas to be supported by JIAS.

Continue Reading

Colloquium report released

A comprehensive report on the colloquium entitled ‘Why The Brain Matters’ hosted by JIAS in the latter half of 2016 has been completed and is available to the public.

The report was released at the launch of the Brain Matters Seminar Series emanating from the Colloquium at the School of Public Health of the University of the Witwatersrand on 23 March 2017.

Prof Willem Hendrik Gispen of Utrecht University, the Colloquium convener, presented copies of the report to Dr Tanya Calvey of the Wits School of Anatomical Sciences and Dr Sahba Besharati of the CoE in Human Development, organisers of the seminar series, and participants in the Colloquium.

Copies of the report were also presented to Prof Ihron Rensburg, UJ Vice-Chancellor and Principal, and Prof Bertil Andersson, President of Nanyang Technological University, at a ceremony on 20 March 2017 where they signed an agreement to extend their collaboration on the JIAS initiative for another five years.

To download a printable version of the report, click here.

Continue Reading

Brain Matters Seminar Series launched


The Brain Matters Seminar Series emanating from the JIAS Colloquium on ‘Why The Brain Matters’ was launched at the School of Public Health of the University of the Witwatersrand on 23 March 2017.

The event was attended by neuropsychologists, neuroscientists, psychiatrists, philosophers, radiologists, biomedical engineers, epidemiologists, neurosurgeons, neurologists as well as faculty and students from the University of the Witwatersrand, the University of Johannesburg and the University of Pretoria.

The launch was chaired by Prof Linda Richter, Director of the NRF Centre of Excellence (CoE) in Human Development at Wits University. Prof Peter Vale, director of JIAS, gave an overview of the Colloquium and its aftermath.

The keynote address was delivered by Prof Willem Hendrik Gispen of Utrecht University, former president of the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies, and convener of the Colloquium. He also presented copies of the final Colloquium report to Dr Tanya Calvey of the Wits School of Anatomical Sciences and Dr Sahba Besharati of the CoE in Human Development, organisers of the Seminar Series and participants in the Colloquium.

Drs Calvey and Besharati gave a presentation on the purpose of the seminar series.

The first two lectures in the series were announced. On 20 April, Prof Vivienne Russell of the University of Cape Town will speak on the history of neuroscience. On 25 May, Prof Paul Manger of the University of the Witwatersrand will speak on the Five Evolutions of Large Brains in Mammals – humans, elephants, cetaceans, seals and camels.

The launch closed with an announcement by Prof Richter of a three-year PhD scholarship in neuroscience, as an outcome of the Colloquium and Seminar Series.

Continue Reading

JIAS director on visit to NTU

Prof Peter Vale, Director of JIAS, is on a month-long visit to Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore.

He has been appointed as Visiting Professor in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at NTU. During his visit, he will work to strengthen linkages between JIAS and the NTU, and will lead two seminars.

Prof Vale will also spend three days at the Fifth Global International Studies Conference in Taiwan, where he will delivered a paper entitled ‘The idea of regions in IR: notes from the Field’.

Continue Reading

Writing Fellows seminar series

The JIAS Writing Fellows for 2017 will present a seminar series that will run from April to June. The seminars are open to members of the public. All the seminars will be held at the JIAS campus at 1 Tolip Street, Westdene, on Wednesday mornings from 9h00 to 12h00. The seminars are:

April 5: Elvis Imafidon: Exploring African philosophy and difference.
April 19: Maya Wegerif: On new ways to make and distribute film in South Africa.
April 26: Iordan Avramov: The Early Royal Society of London and Africa: the evidence of the correspondence of Henry Oldenburg and related sources.
May 3: Bill Kinsey: An invisible illness – understanding the persistence of chronic child undernutrition in Africa.
May 10: Melissa Myambo: Global cultural time zones, (sub)national space, unequal access to place.
May 17: Wei Ching Lee: Teacher agency in teaching slow progress learners in Singapore.
May 24: Pam Maseko: Language as source of revitalization and reclamation of indigenous epistemologies.
May 31: Brooks Spector: Johannesburg’s Newtown: the imagined community.
June 7: Kole Omotoso: Death and the exile.
June 14: Scott Anthony: Matthews/Nkrumah: football and art in Africa.

Continue Reading

Ronit Frenkel joins JIAS

Ronit Frenkel, Associate Professor of English at UJ, has jointed JIAS as Deputy Director. She will primarily be responsible for managing its academic programmes.

Ronit holds BA Honours and Masters degrees in African Literature from the University of the Witwatersrand, and a PhD in Comparative Cultural and Literary Studies from the University of Arizona, where she specialized in Cultural Studies, with a minor in Women’s Studies.

Her work falls at the intersection of cultural studies, African literature and critical theory. She is the author of Reconsiderations. South African Indian Fiction and the Making of Race in Postcolonial Culture (Unisa Press 2010), and Traversing Transnationalism: the horizons of cultural and literary studies (Rodopi Press 2011), with David Watson (Uppsala) and Pier Paolo Frassinelli (UJ). She predominantly works on South African literary and cultural studies.

Continue Reading

JIAS agreement renewed

Prof Ihron Rensburg and Prof Bertil Andersson after signing the Memorandum of Understanding.


The UNIVERSITY OF JOHANNEBURG and Nanyang Technological University of Singapore have agreed to extend their collaboration on the JIAS initiative for another five years. The initial agreement establishing JIAS was signed in 2015. Professor Bertil Andersson, President of Nanyang Technological University, and Prof Ihron Rensburg, UJ Vice-Chancellor and Principal, signed the new agreement extending the life of the Institute at a ceremony at JIAS on 20 March 2017.

The ceremony was also attended by the Singapore High Commissioner to South Africa, H.E. Mr Chua Thai-Keong; Prof Tshilidzi Marwala, UJ Deputy Vice-Chancellor; Kristen Sadler of the President’s Office at NTU; Prof Peter Vale, Director of  JIAS; Prof Ronit Frenkel, Deputy Director of JIAS; Johnny Selemani, Academic Manager at JIAS; and the 2017 JIAS Writing Fellows.

From left to right are Prof Peter Vale; Prof Bertil Andersson; Prof Ihron Rensburg; H.E. Mr Chua Thai-Keong; and Prof Tshilidzi Marwala.

Continue Reading