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JIAS at Science Forum South Africa 2017

JIAS staffed a booth at Science Forum South Africa 2017, held at the CSIR International Convention Centre in Pretoria on 7 – 8 December 2017. From left to right are: Prof BVR Chowdari (NTU), Prof Peter Vale (JIAS), Reshmi Singh (JIAS), Prof Alexander Zehnder (NTU), Emelia Kamena (JIAS), Ronald Witte (JIAS), and Dr Kristen Sadler (NTU). JIAS also organised a panel discussion.

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JIAS Writing Fellows 2018

JIAS has announced the names of its third intake of Writing Fellows for its four-month Writing Term that will run from February to May 2018. Selected from more than 300 applicants, the Writing Fellows include authors, journalists, and scholars in various disciplines from Africa and Asia.

Writing Fellows will have access to live-in suites at the JIAS complex in Westdene, Johannesburg, where they will enjoy a quiet space for work and reflection, and participate in academic community-building.

Commenting on the selection, Prof Peter Vale, JIAS Director, said he was gratified by the large number of applications, which attested to the growing role of JIAS in fostering interdisciplinary thought and research.

‘We are excited by the pool of talent these Fellows represent. We hope their stay at JIAS will be productive, and they will make full use of this opportunity to share in and build an intercontinental community of scholars.’

For pictures and biographical notes, click here.

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David Shulman visits JIAS

David and Eileen Shulman at JIAS.

Professor David Schulman,  one of the greatest living Indologists,visited JIAS in early September. He was a cures of the Centre for Indian Studies in Africa, Wits University, and JIAS.

A literary scholar, philosopher and activist, he has written more than 20 books on poetry, myth and aesthetics in South Asia over the past 400 years. His most recent works are Tamil: a Biography (Harvard University Press, 2017) and More than Real: A History of the imagination in South India (Harvard University Press, 2015).

His moving account of his work on the West Bank and Gaza as a member of the peace group Ta’ayush, which takes its name from the Arabic for “living together”, was published as Dark Hope: Working for Peace in Israel and Palestine (Chicago University Press, 2007).

Between 1992 and 1998, Schulman was Director of the Israel Institute for Advanced Studies in Jerusalem.

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Seminar by Henk van Rinsum

ON MONDAY 17 July, JIAS and the Ali Mazrui Centre for Higher Education Studies at UJ hosted a seminar by Dr Henk van Rinsum on ‘Religion, Knowledge and Knowing: Dutch (academic) interaction with the Colonial “Other”, 1636-2017’.

Dr Henk van Rinsum is a historian and anthropologist, and executive secretary of the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences of Utrecht University. His academic interest is in the intersection between university, intellectual, and colonial history. He has published on the history of academic relations between the Netherlands and South Africa, and on the political history of honorary doctorates at the University of Stellenbosch.

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30 years of Stacey Stent

JIAS has contracted Africartoons to exhibit ‘30 Years of Stacey Stent’ in the JIAS Cartoon Room.

The curator, John Curtis of Africartoons, has written: ‘Stacey Stent is one of South Africa’s pre-eminent editorial cartoonists, and one of the few who have covered the shenanigans of both the apartheid regime and the democratic dispensation that followed it.

‘Her free-flowing lines and clever, witty dialogue are very accessible, and her trademark satire can be simultaneously light and biting – but it is always thought-provoking.

‘A committed chamption of the voiceless and dispossessed, she follows a progressive line, and is a feminist. These symphaties are reflected in her work. Stent is South Africa’s first and only woman professional editorial cartoonist.’

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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