Archive | Past events

Writing across time and space: an evening with Fred and Sihle Khumalo

By Janet Remmington, 2018 JIAS Resident

On Tuesday 20 November, the 2018 JIAS Residents arranged a round table discussion with the prominent South African writers Fred Khumalo and Sihle Khumalo. We opened with readings from their latest books, both published by Penguin South Africa.

The two made a dynamic pair, riffing off of each other’s work, and engaging with the group. Fred had also acted as editor of Sihle’s book.

Fred Khumalo’s Dancing the Death Drill (2017) travels back to the sinking of the 1917 troop ship the SS Mendi in which 600 black South Africans lost their lives, and to 1958 Paris to follow the story of a fictional survivor.

Sihle Khumalo’s Rainbow Nation My Zulu Arse (2018) carries the reader in provocative, humorous, and insightful fashion from Gauteng to Limpopo and then through South Africa’s seven other provinces in an attempt to get to grips with his home country 24 years after the political transition.

The conversation then turned to following tracks, whether historical or geographic, leading to forgotten people and places, and to those excluded from dominant discourses. In other words, to tell the unheard stories, and to move us beyond our everyday positions.

Cemeteries became an unexpected focus, resonating across both books: the War fallen, those not duly remembered, including many women, and the varying states of graveyards and memorials in South Africa.

Fred and Sihle talked about working up their story-telling strategies by engaging with the historical novel and travelogue genres respectively. We all reflected on the ways in which the past persists in the present – it’s all around us – but also on how so many gaps and unknowns remain to be recuperated, reimagined, and brought to life today. For an unforgettable evening, a warm thank-you to JIAS and to the unstoppable Khumalos.

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Spring seminar on decolonising the curriculum

On Friday 2 November 2018, Prof Catherine Manathunga of the University of Sunshine Coast in Australia led a seminar at UJ entitled ‘Decolonising the curriculum: reflections on transforming doctoral education through Southern higher education research’.

The seminar formed part of the UJ Postgraduate School Spring Seminar Series, and was hosted by JIAS and the UJ Postgraduate School.


While calls to decolonise the curriculum have been occurring for decades, particularly through postcolonial, feminist and Indigenous research, universities even in the global South remain very slow to draw upon this research to actively work to transform doctoral education and teaching and learning. Indeed, the recent domination of university cultures by neoliberal and globalising capitalism has made this mission even more challenging. Global inequities in knowledge production continue to become further entrenched and Northern knowledge systems seem to be becoming more dominant (Peters, 2015 Connell, 2017; Connell et al 2017).

The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) is a key site where contested postcolonial histories, geographies and epistemologies play out sometimes in quite dangerous ways. Therefore, we need to draw upon a robust array of theoretical resources if we are to decolonise the curriculum and create spaces for Southern research to flourish, for research-based quality teaching and learning, and for universities to engage in effective community engagement with all of the ethnic communities represented in our postcolonial local and national contexts.

In this keynote presentation, I outline the postcolonial/decolonial theoretical framework I draw upon to explore a series of key strategies to decolonise the curriculum (Manathunga 2018). I will interrogate each of these strategies further, seeking practical examples from a range of Southern locations. I will conclude by inviting the audience to debate further how genuine decolonisation of the curriculum might be achieved in their own disciplines and universities.

For more about Professor Catherine Manathunga and the UJ Postgraduate School Spring Seminar Series, click here.

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Workshops on High Ability and Talent Development

On 5 and 6 October 2018, the South African Institute on High Ability and Talent Development held two workshops at the University of Johannesburg.

The workshops were aimed at finding, engaging,  challenging and elevating advanced, talented and highly able learners.

This was a collaborative project between the Faculty of Education (UJ) and the University of Central Florida (UCF), Orlando, USA, in partnership with the Department of Educational Psychology in the Faculty of Education (UJ), the Johannesburg Institute for Advanced Studies (JIAS), and the School of Tourism and Hospitality (STH). The coordinators were Prof Juliet Perumal (UJ) and Dr Gillian Eriksson (UCF).

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Seminar on ‘The relativity of Bugs Bunny’

On Tuesday 6 November 2018, Prof Steven Karataglidis, a theoretical nuclear physicist at the University of Johannesburg, led a seminar at JIAS on ‘The Relativity of Bugs Bunny’.

Prof Karataglidis is a theoretical nuclear physicist in the Department of Physics at UJ. He obtained a PhD from the University of Melbourne in 1995, and worked in various locations before settling in South Africa in 2006. An avowed devotee of Chuck Jones since his childhood, he was the unofficial, unpaid, cartoon unhistorian of the Chuck Jones Gallery of Santa Fe which living in Santa Fe, New Mexico, from 1999 to 2002.

Prior to the seminar, he commented as follows:

‘You would be surprised where the applications of physics sometimes appear. I will present an overview of one of the most startling applications (or not, as the case may be) of the Laws of Physics, and of the influences that drove me and a number of my more enlightened colleagues to become physicists. Come prepared for some interesting discussions, as well as some fun.’


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Seminar led by Prof Alan Chan of NTU Singapore

On Tuesday 9 October 2018, Prof Alan Chan, Vice President of Nanyang Technological University (NTU) Singapore, led a seminar at JIAS entitled ‘Science and Technology for Humanity: A Report from Singapore’.

Prof Chan reported on the activities of the NTU Institute of Science and Technology for Humanity (NISTH), a newly established Interdisciplinary Centre of Excellence at NTU, Singapore.

An initiative of the NTU’s new President, Prof Subra Suresh, its purpose is to address the social challenges arising from rapid technological change, notably those manifested in the course of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR).

To this end, the NISTH propels research and public discourse on the social context of scientific and technological innovation, as well as the consequences of technological interventions in society.

It champions interdisciplinary research on science and technology studies, and works to bring together academia, non-profit organisations, government and industry in navigating the complex course of social development.

This seminar was of particular interest to the UJ community as it focused on aspects of the 4IR – notably its implications for the human experience – which has become a dominant theme at the university. It also provided academics at UJ with an opportunity to explore the possibilities of collaborating with the NISTH.

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Trevor Manuel opens Colloquium

THE Colloquium on Digital Finance in Africa was opened on 22 October 2018 by Mr Trevor Manuel, former South African Minister of Finance. His keynote address was followed by a panel discussion on ‘The Impact of Digital Finance on Africa’s Growth’.

The panelists were Mr Nnamdi Oranye, founder of Disrupting Africa and fin-tech author, and Mr Stephen Mwaura Nduati, an international technology consultant. The discussion was chaired by Prof Saurabh Sinha, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of Johannesburg. A reception followed.

The opening was attended by about 150 people. An edited version of Mr Manuel’s opening address will be posted soon. To view the webcast on the UJ YouTube channel, click on the link below.



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Lecture on Mandela as a lawyer

Nelson Mandela as attorney in the offices of Mandela and Tambo. Picture: Jurgen Schadeberg

On 25 September 2018, JIAS and the UJ Faculty of Law, in partnership with the UJ Library, hosted a public lecture entitled ‘Mandela as a Lawyer’.

The keynote speaker was Advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi, and the discussant was former Constitutional Court Judge Albie Sachs.

For an edited video of the event on the UJ YouTube channel, click here.

For full-length webcasts on the UJ YouTube channel, click on the links below.

Part 1:

Part 2:

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Fourth panel discussion on work and the future

Prof Babu Paul of the University of Johannesburg.

On Wednesday 12 September 2018, JIAS hosted a panel discussion on ‘Work and the Future: Perspectives from Higher Education’. This was the fourth and final in our series of high-level panel discussions on work and the future.

Panelists considered the implications of the Fourth Industrial Revolution for tertiary institutions. Specifically, they discussed whether universites should only teach science and technology, whether the humanities have a future, and the extent to which universities should collaborate with industry.

The panelists were Prof Babu Paul of UJ, Prof Ruksana Osman of the University of the Witwatersrand, and Prof Robin Crewe of Pretoria University.

For more information about the panel series, click here.

Prof Ruksana Osman of Wits University.

Prof Robin Crewe of the University of Pretoria.

The discussion in progress.

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Third panel discussion on work and the future

M D Ramesh, president and regional head of Olam International.

On Wednesday 5 September 2018, JIAS hosted a panel discussion on ‘Business Perspectives on Work and the Future’.

This was the third in our series of four high-level panel discussions on work and the future. The fourth and final discussion, entitled ‘Perspectives from Higher Education’, will take place on Wednesday 12 September 2018.

Business leaders at the cutting edge of technological change served on this panel. Besides offering industry-specific views, they explored ways in which business and society can prepare for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

The panelists were M D Ramesh, President and Regional Head, Olam International; and Yolisa Kani, Head of Public Policy, Uber South Africa. The discussion was moderated by Prof Saurabh Sinha, UJ Deputy Vice-Chancellor.

Yolisa Kani, Head of Public Policy, Uber South Africa.

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Prof Marwala delivers distinguished lecture in Singapore

Prof Tshilidzi Marwala.

ON 30 August 2018, Prof Tshilidzi Marwala, Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Johannesburg, delivered a lecture on ‘The Fourth Industrial Revolution and Society’ at the NTU Institute of Science and Technology for Humanity (NTSH) at Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore. The lecture formed part of the NISTH’s Distinguished Lecture Series.


The Fourth Industrial Revolution is characterised by making systems as well as machines intelligent and connected. The underlying technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution include artificial intelligence (AI) as well as blockchain. Artificial intelligence is a paradigm where physical and social phenomena are programmed to solve complex problems. AI enables machines to learn, adapt, evolve and optimise, and has had a profound impact in diverse fields such as engineering, medical sciences and social sciences. In this lecture, Prof Marwala explored applications of the fourth industrial revolution technologies to engineering, social sciences and medical problems. The implications of these on society as well as the underlying costs were also explored.

About Prof Marwala

Tshilidzi Marwala is Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Johannesburg. Previously, he was Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research and Internationalisation and Executive Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment at the same university. He progressively held the positions of Associate Professor, Full Professor, the Carl and Emily Fuchs Chair of Systems and Control Engineering, as well as the SARChI Chair of Systems Engineering at the Department of Electrical and Information Engineering at the University of the Witwatersrand. Before then, he was Executive Assistant to the Technical Director at South African Breweries, and a post-doctoral research associate at the Imperial College (then University of London).

Prof Marwala holds a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering (magna cum laude) from Case Western Reserve University (USA) in 1995, a Master of Mechanical Engineering from the University of Pretoria in 1997, and a PhD specialising in Artificial Intelligence and Engineering from the University of Cambridge in 2000.

He is a registered professional engineer, a Fellow of TWAS (The World Academy of Sciences), the Academy of Science of South Africa, the African Academy of Sciences and the South African Academy of Engineering. He is also a distinguished member of the ACM (Association for Computing Machinery).

His research interests are multi-disciplinary and include the theory and application of artificial intelligence to engineering, computer science, finance, social science and medicine. He has supervised 47 Masters and 28 Doctoral students to completion. He has published 14 books on artificial intelligence, one of which has been translated into Chinese, more than 300 papers in journals, proceedings, book chapters and magazines, and holds four patents. He is an associate editor of the International Journal of Systems Science. His writings and opinions have appeared in the magazines New Scientist, The Economist and Time Magazine.


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