Archive | Past events

Launch of book by Lesego Rampolokeng

ON 14 September 2017, JIAS, the UJ Department of English and Deep South hosted the Johannesburg launch of the novel Bird-Monk Seding, by Lesego Rampolokeng.

Lesego Rampolokeng is a poet and performance maestro and the author of 12 books, including two plays and three novels. He has collaborated with visual artists, playwrights, film-makers, theatre and opera producers, poets and musicians. His no-holds-barred style, radical political-aesthetic perspective and instantly recognisable voice have brought him a unique place in South African literature.

 Bird-Monk Seding, Rampolokeng’s third novel, is a stark picture of life in a rural township two decades into South Africa’s democracy. Listening and observing in the streets and taverns, narrator Bavino Sekete, often feeling desperate himself, is thrown back to his own violent childhood in Soweto. To get through, he turns to his pantheon of jazz innovators and radical writers.

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Second seminar on the challenge of ‘Big Data’

On 7 September 2017, Prof Qing-Guo Wang, Distinguished Professor: Institute for Intelligent Systems in the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment (FEBE) at UJ, presented a seminar at JIAS entitled ‘Investment Portfolio Management: Brief Introduction and New Results’.

This was the second in a four-part seminar series on ‘The Challenge of Big Data’, hosted by FEBE and JIAS.

Abstract

Part I is a brief introduction to portfolio management problem, including importance of finance, financial bubbles, key factors of investment, theory and problems.

Part II will deal with a multi-period portfolio management problem over a finite horizon. The objective is to seek the optimal investment policy series which maximizes the weighted sum of a linear combination of the expected return and the variance of portfolio over all the investment periods. This formulation enables the investor to adjust weights for any period and have full freedom and control over their best trade-off between return and risk over each period.

We show that such a problem is a convex quadratic programming problem in terms of the decision variables, regardless of price dynamic nature (either linear or nonlinear cases). By solving the convex quadratic programming problem directly, an optimal solution is developed for its original problem without using dynamic programming. The solution is simplified  for a general linear price model with high-order and coupled asset dynamics and shown to be implementable with historical price data.

Simulation is carried out on USA and China stock markets with real data, which demonstrates feasibility and better performance of the proposed solution than the special case considered in the literature. In particular, the proposed solution with suitable non-zero weights on intermediate time periods offers higher return at the same risk level, compared with one involving the terminal wealth only in the objective function.

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South Africa’s strategic role in Africa

ON 12-14 July 2017, the South African Council on International Relations (SACOIR) held the first of three interactive seminars about South Africa’s place, role and standing in Africa.

Organised by the SACOIR working group on Africa, the seminar series is aimed at engaging with experts in the Department of International Relations and Co-operation (DIRCO), other relevant state actors, and analysts in academia and the non-state sector to assist it with:

  • Examining and assessing South Africa’s current role and standing in Africa;
  • Determining its will and capacity to lead Africa’s renewal in governance, development and security; and
  • Recommending appropriate steps to decision-makers in government and the non-state sector for achieving these objectives.

The event was co-hosted by JIAS as well as the School of Governance of the University of the Witwatersrand. Prof Peter Vale, Director of JIAS, serves on the SACOIR Working Group on Africa.

Keynote address: Global trends, U.S. policy and Africa

The opening address was delivered by Gregory F. Treverton, chairman of the US National Intelligence Council under the Obama administration, and previous director of the RAND Corporation’s Centre for Global Risk and Security, Intelligence Policy Centre and International Security and Defence Policy Centre.

Entitled ‘Global Trends, U.S. Policy and Africa’, the address contained projections about the global future over a five-year and 20-year period. It concluded with an analysis of US policy under the Trump administration and what it might mean for Africa – and South Africa – in the context of these broader global trends.

The presentation provoked a lively discussion. More presentations and discussions followed over the next two days.

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Workshop on opioids and harm reduction in SA

ON 21-22 August 2017, JIAS hosted a workshop on ‘Opioids and Harm Reduction in South Africa: Opening a Multidisciplinary Conversation’.

 The workshop was co-sponsored by the Department of History of the University of Johannesburg, and funded from a Knowledge Interchange and Collaboration (KIC) grant from the National Research Foundation (NRF).

Opioid addiction and overdose deaths are drawing renewed attention to questions about chemical dependency and treatment. Shifts in drug policy paradigms, from criminalisation to harm reduction, have been guiding new thinking worldwide, and this is also the case in South Africa.

South Africa has a unique history in which chemical controls and controlling chemicals have been imbricated with colonial and apartheid regimes. Currently, dilemmas around drugs and addiction are compounded by scarcity, socio-economic disparity and polarized public opinion.

What can humanities research and multidisciplinary collaborations offer in support of local initiatives and civic interventions aimed at transforming policies and treatment practices, so as to reduce harms for drugs users and for society more generally?

This workshop brought together some pioneering researchers and civic actors who focus and guide thinking and policy discussions on these issues.

For a workshop report, click here.

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Seminar on ‘Decolonisation and Big Data analytics’

On Thursday 17 August 2017, JIAS and the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment (FEBE) at UJ hosted the first in a four-part seminar series on ‘The Challenge of Big Data’.

Prof Saurabh Sinha, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment, spoke on ‘Decolonisation and Big Data analytics’.

To access the slideshow that accompanied the presentation, use the following link: https://goo.gl/m5j4bQ

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Third Brain Matters seminar

The third in the Brain Matters Seminar Series, which is supported by JIAS, was held at Wits University on Friday 18 August 2017.

Prof Mark Solms, Director of Neuropsychology at the University of Cape Town, spoke on ‘The Neural Mechanisms of Dreaming’.

About the Brain Matters seminar series

The Brain Matters Seminar Series is a joint initiative of the University of the Witwatersrand, the Johannesburg Institute for Advanced Study (JIAS), the Southern African Neuroscience Society (SANS), and the Wits Cortex Club.

It explores the past, present and future of neuroscience in southern Africa, with the aim of building a network of researchers dedicated to advancing the field in the region.

The seminars have a multidisciplinary neuroscience focus, and cover topics that are both locally relevant and internationally significant. The first two were held in April and May, and the last two will be held in October and December.

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Conference on expulsions

On 17 and 18 August 2017, the Centre for Indian Studies in Africa (CISA), the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung (RLS) and JIAS hosted an international conference entitled ‘Expulsions: Histories, Geographies, Memories’.

Participants included Sana Aiyar (MIT), Faaeza Ballim (Wits History Workshop), Neilesh Bose (Victoria), Linell Chewins (Wits, History), Thomas Blom Hansen (Stanford), Anneeth Kaur Hundle (UC Merced), Jonathan Klaaren (Wits, WISER), Christopher Lee (Lafayette), Andrew Macdonald (Wits, History), Dilip Menon (Wits, CISA) and Edgar Taylor (Wits, CISA).

A conference report will be available soon.

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Seminar on language policy in multilingual societies

On Tuesday 8 August 2017, JIAS held a seminar entitled ‘Language policy in multilingual societies: a Singapore—South African conversation’.

The seminar was led by Prof Ying Ying Tan, Head of Linguistics and Multilingual Studies at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, and Prof Pamela Maseko of the School of African Languages at Rhodes University, and a 2017 JIAS Writing Fellow.

It was the first in a series entitled ‘Language Matters’, which will build towards a Colloquium entitled “Why Language Matters’.

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Prof Ihron Rensburg on leadership under crisis

On Thursday 27 July, Prof Ihron Rensburg, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Johannesburg, presented a seminar on ‘Leadership under crisis: the case of the University of Johannesburg’. The event was hosted by the Ali Mazrui Centre for Higher Education Studies in the UJ Faculty of Education and the UJ Postgraduate School.

About Prof Ihron Rensburg

Prof Ihron Rensburg became Vice Chancellor of the University of Johannesburg in 2006. Prior to that he was CE Strategic Services at the South African Broadcasting Corporation, Deputy Director General of South Africa’s Department of Education, and General Secretary of the National Education Crisis Committee. In May 2015, he completed his term as Commissioner of South Africa’s National Planning Commission, where he chaired the Working Group on Social Protection and Human Capabilities. The National Planning Commission chartered South Africa’s first National Development Plan 2030.

Together with South Africa’s Deputy Minister of Education, Rensburg is Co-Chairperson of Education Dialogue SA. He recently served as Chairperson of the South Africa as well as the Southern Africa Universities Vice Chancellors Associations, Chairperson of the Ministerial Committee on Student Accommodation in South African Universities, a Member of the Ministerial Committee on the Funding of South African Universities, Councillor of the Association of Commonwealth Universities, and Board Member of the Commonwealth of Learning.

Prof Rensburg holds a Doctor of Philosophy degree in International Comparative Education from Stanford University in the United States, obtained with distinction with a dissertation entitled “Collective Identity and Public Policy: From Resistance to Reconstruction in South Africa, 1986-1995”. He holds an MA degree in Political and Organisational Sociology, also from Stanford University, and a B. Pharmacy degree from Rhodes University. In 2004 he completed the Global Executive Development Programme with distinction at the Graduate Institute of Business Science (GIBS) at the University of Pretoria. His dissertation was entitled “Unleashing Peak Performance and Resilience in Times of Great Challenge: How True Leaders Make the Difference.”

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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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