Archive | News

Seminar on origins of the brain

On 21 September, JIAS, the Evolutionary Studies Institute at Wits University, the Centre of Excellence for the Paleosciences, and the Royal Society of South Africa will hold a one-day seminar on ‘The Origins of the Brain – From Mammal-like Reptiles to Humans’. A limited number of seats are available. Those interesting in attending are requested to book by Friday 16 September. The full invitation appears below.

JIAS seminar on the brain

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Seminar on neoliberalism and feminism at SA universities

JIAS seminar on feminism

THE IMPACT of neoliberalism on the humanities and the teaching of feminism at South African universities were explored at a seminar held at JIAS on 2 March 2016.

The seminar, the first JIAS event of 2016, started with a presentation by Prof Desiree Lewis, lecturer in Women and Gender Studies at the University of the Western Cape, and a JIAS Writing Fellow.

Dr Danai Mupotsa, lecturer in African Literature at Wits University, acted as formal discussant. A lively discussion followed, among others on the perceived theory / practice divide in feminist scholarship.

The seminar was attended by other JIAS Writing Fellows, teaching staff and students from the University of Johannesburg, Wits University, and the University of Pretoria.

Prof Lewis’s presentation can be downloaded here.

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First Writing Fellows appointed

JIAS has selected its first intake of 11 Writing Fellows for its initial writing term that will run from mid-February to mid-April 2016. Each Writing Fellow will have access to a live-in suite at the JIAS complex in Westdene, and share in the community life of the Institute. The first intake comprises a broad spectrum of national and international scholars, writers and artists, active across a range of disciplines. They are:

  • Esther Akinlabi, Associate Professor and Head of the Department of Mechanical Engineering Science at the University of Johannesburg
  • Sylvester C Chima, Associate Professor and Head of the Programme of Bio and Research Ethics and Medical Law at the University of KwaZulu-Natal
  • David Coplan, Professor and Chair of Social Anthropology at the University of the Witwatersrand
  • Fred Khumalo, journalist and author
  • Kim Gurney, artist, curator, researcher and writer
  • Desiree Lewis, lecturer in Women and Gender Studies at the University of the Western Cape
  • Harry Kalmer, author and playwright
  • Dr Michael Kasenbacher, researcher, speaker and author
  • Yewande Omotoso, author
  • David wa Maahlamela, poet and prose writer
  • Tabitha Mulyampiti, senior lecturer in women and gender studies at Makerere University

For longer biographical notes, click here.



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Special journal issue

PROF Peter Vale, director of JIAS, and Prof John Higgins of the University of Cape Town acted as guest editors of the February 2016 edition of Arts and Humanities in Higher Education (15:1), entitled ‘State of Urgency: The Humanities in South Africa’, which has gone online.

Among other things, it contains a thematic editorial by Vale and Higgins; an in-depth interview by Vale of Pam Maseko, lecturer in African languages at Rhodes University, entitled ‘The struggles over African languages’; an acticle by JIAS visiting fellow Vineet Thakur entitled ‘Reflections on dead theory in International Relations’; and an article by JIAS administrator Estelle Prinsloo entitled ‘The role of the Humanities in decolonising the academy’. Other noted authors include J M Coetzee, William Kentridge, Njabulo S Ndebele, and Achille Joseph Mbembe.

To access this issue on the Sage Publications website, click here.

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Visit from Prof Willem Hendrik Gispen

Prof Gispen and Prof ValePROF Willem Hendrik Gispen (left), biologist and neuroscientist and Rector Emeritus of Utrecht University, visited JIAS on 4 December 2015 to discuss the project entitled ‘Why The Brain Matters 2016’, due to be the topic session for the third JIAS term in 2016. On the right is Prof Peter Vale, Director of JIAS.

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Visit from the NTU

vasbinder and zehnderIN 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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JIAS hosts workshop on performative urbanisms

urbanism workshop for web 1

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 (, 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.

urbanism workshop for web 6 urbanisms workshop for web 5 urbanisms workshop for web 4 urbanisms workshop for web 3

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JIAS launched on 14 May 2015

founding meeting 2

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.

Keynote address

jias agreement 2

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.

Panel discussion

panel discussion 3

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.

prof achille mbembe 3 prof lansing and prof zehnder

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