Archive | Past events

Universities and constitutions

On 20-21 April 2015, JIAS hosted a follow-up conversation on ‘Universities and constitutions: What does research-based knowledge and higher education mean for constitutional democracies?’ Papers were delivered by Prof John Higgins (UCT), Prof Tor Halvorsen (University of Bergen), Prof John Peter Collett (Oslo University) and Prof Henriette Sinding Aasen (University of Bergen). Participants included Prof David Blichitz (UJ, Dr Leon Wessels (University of the Free State), Prof Anton Harber (Wits University), Prof Noeleen Murray (Wits University), Prof Brenda Schmahmann (UJ, Prof Jane Duncan (UJ, Dr Vashna Jagarnath (Rhodes University) and Prof Salim Vally (UJ).

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International Relations and IR theory

On 6 March 2015, JIAS presented a seminar on ‘International Relations and its Theory: An End? Whose End?’ The seminar formed part of the JIAS Series of Conceptual Conversations on International Relations. resentations were made by Dr Siphamandla Zondi (Institute for Global Dialogue), Dr David Hornsby (Wits University), Prof Peter Sutch (Cardiff University), and Dr Vineet Thakur (UJ).

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Universities and constitutions

ON 17—19 November 2014, JIAS hosted a conference on ‘Universities and constitutions: What does research-based knowledge and higher education mean for constitutional democracies?’, co-organised with the University of Bergen and UJ’s Postgraduate Centre: Research & Innovation.
The proceedings were opened by Justice Edwin Cameron, judge of the South African Constitutional Court. Papers were delivered by Prof Siri Gloppen (University of Bergen), Mpho Mashe Matheolane (UP), Prof Mamokgethi Phakeng (UNISA), Prof Henriette Sinding Aasen (University of Bergen), Hugh Amoore (UCT), Prof John Peter Collett (Oslo University), Prof Gro Therese Lie (University of Bergen), Prof John Higgins (UCT), Prof Michael Cross (UJ), Dr Amasa Ndofirepi (UJ, Anne Lise Fimreite (Pro-Rector, University of Bergen) and Prof Tor Halvorsen (University of Bergen).

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Launch of book by Dale T McKinley

On Tuesday 13 June 2017, JIAS hosted the launch of a book entitled South Africa’s Corporatised Liberation: A Critical Analysis of the ANC in Power (Jacana 2017), by Dale T McKinley.

The launch was held in collaboration with the Departments of Anthropology and Development Studies and Communication Studies at UJ.

The respondent was Prof Mary Galvin, Department of  Anthropology and Development Studies at UJ.

Dale T McKinley is an independent writer, researcher and lecturer based in Johannesburg, with a PhD in International Political Economy/African Studies. A long-standing political activist, he has been involved in social movement, community and liberation organisations and struggles for more than three decades, and has written widely on various aspects of South African and international political, social and economic issues and struggles. Dale occasionally lectures at the university level, is a regular speaker at academic and civil society conferences, contributes to the print media, and provides commentaries on radio and television.

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Exhibition on Johannesburg and New Delhi

Image: Nocebo Bucibo.

JIAS and the City Institute have sponsored an art and photo exhibition entitled ‘Invisible Borders: Cultural Time Zones in Johannesburg and New Delhi’ which was on show at the Centre for Indian Studies in Africa (CISA) in Braamfontein, Johannesburg, on 1-7 June 2017.

The exhibition was organised by Dr Melissa Tandiwe Myambo, a 2017 JIAS Writing Fellow. It was linked to a one-day seminar entitled ‘What does spatial transformation mean?: Possibilities for a more equitable, liveable Johannesburg’, held at JIAS on Friday 2 June 2017.

The exhibition explored specific areas in both cities in terms of the notion of Cultural Time Zones (CTZs), a theory of microspaces conceptualised by Myambo, a former Fulbright-Nehru Scholar at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies in New Delhi, and a research associate at CISA.

According to Myambo, one of the objectives of CTZ theory is to illuminate invisible barriers that enable or prevent different constituencies from accessing certain city spaces.

To this end, the exhibition examined two adjacent areas in each city, one ‘gentrified’ and one ‘ungentrified’ — Maboneng and Jeppestown in Jo’burg’s CBD; and Select Citywalk Mall and Khirkee Village in South Delhi. It reveals how the ‘development’ policies of globalising cities are creating radically different microspaces – some privileged, and some very precarious.

The artists and photographers included Nocebo Bucibo, Laura Burocco, Malini Kochupillai, Leon Krige, Mwezi Macingwane, Melissa Tandiwe Myambo, Juan Orrantia and Ruzza Wazzi.

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Seminar on spatial transformation in Johannesburg

What does spatial transformation mean?: Possibilities for a more equitable, liveable Johannesburg. Picture: Nocebo Bucibo

On Friday 2 June 2017, JIAS and the Wits City Institute hosted a one-day seminar entitled ‘What does spatial transformation mean?: Possibilities for a more equitable, liveable Johannesburg’.

The seminar was held on the JIAS campus at 1 Tolip Street in Westdene. It was organised by Dr Melissa Tandiwe Myambo, a 2017 JIAS Writing Fellow, in conjunction with the Wits City Institute.

The seminar took place in three sessions.

Johannesburg: critical concerns laid out chronic structural problems in relationship to the city’s historically conditioned spatial politics.

Rethinking Challenges, Exploring Solutions explored potential critical solutions e.lg. the transport initiative, corridors of Freedom, efforts to ‘green’ the city economy, social housing, and private-public partnerships.

This was followed by a Round Table Discussion among local government officials, scholars, urban developers, and others.

The fourth component of the seminar was an art exhibition and theoretical photo essay on Johannesburg and New Delhi at the Centre for Indian Studies in Africa (CISA) in Braamfontein, Johannesburg. It was opened on 1 June, and remained on view until 7 June.

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Second Brain Matters Seminar at Wits

THE second in the Brain Matters Seminar series was held at Wits University on Thursday 25 May 2017. Paul Manger, Professor of Neuroscience at the University of the Witwatersrand, spoke on ‘The Five Evolutions of Large Brains in Mammals: Humans, Elephants, Cetaceans, Seals and Camels’.

The summary stated: ‘Humans have large brains, and so do whales, dolphins and elephants. But when do we consider a brain to be ‘large’, and does increased brain size evolve for the same purpose in each of these species? This lecture will explore the definition of large brain size and the multiple independent evolutions of large brains across mammals.’

Third seminar

The next seminar in the series will be on Friday 18th August 2017. The presenter will be Professor Mark Solms, Director of Neuropsychology at the University of Cape Town, who will talk on: ‘The neural mechanisms of dreaming’.

About the Brain Matters Seminar Series

The Brain Matters Seminars are 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 is an interdisciplinary seminar series that explores the past, present and future of neuroscience in southern Africa, with the aim of building a network of researchers that are dedicated to advancing the field in this region.

The series will consist of five seminars, to be held in April, May, August, October and December 2017. They will have a multidisciplinary neuroscience focus, and will cover topics that are both locally relevant and internationally significant.

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Seminar on women identities in Xhosa societies

Xhosa women in the Western Cape. Picture: SA Tourism

ON Wednesday 24 May 2017, in the fourth of the seminar series presented by 2017 Jias Writing Fellows, Prof Pamela Maseko of Rhodes University spoke on ‘Language as a source of revitalisation and reclamation of indigenous epistemologies: Contesting assumptions and re-imagining women identities in Xhosa society’.

Prof Maseko provided the following background:

‘In studies on gender relations in South Africa, one of the widely held assumptions about Xhosa society is that women are invibilised and are perpetually subservient to menfolk. Scholars maintaining this assumption use the western conceptualisation of gender relations where the physical body is always linked to social positions. Amongst amaXhosa, gender is not used to explain social relations. Instead, social relations are organised around age, rank, social eminence gained by ability or achievement and kinship, not around body-type.

‘In humanities and social science studies, the use of language to study human experiences has not been fully explored. This is especially so in societies whose history of literacy and literary heritage is not as extensive, for example, as that of Indo-European languages. Yet, in addition to disciplines such as history, sociology, archaeology and anthropology for example, language can be used to provide evidence on how societies made sense of their world and inadvertently, how this reflected in their past socio-cultural practices. The words, the grammar of the language and the language discourse reflect the socio-cultural context of the people’s interactions, including what they appreciated and despised.

‘Because of the tendency by modern society to elevate and value written knowledge, the use of linguistic evidence as a source of recovery and construction of the past is especially significant in societies to whom writing, the description of their language and the interpretation of their sociocultural practices came through others, as in the case of Africa to whom writing, as we know it today, came through the West.

‘Using linguistic evidence from the literary archives written in the 19th century by early isiXhosa literates who used newspapers to tell an African experience from an indigenous perspective, this presentation examines how equity and equality between women and men is captured in the lexicon of the language. I show that isiXhosa is a non-gendered language and that if language is a social institution, then it should be considered in making sense of the past, and providing counter-arguments to contemporary dominant narratives in the disciplines in the academy about woman in Xhosa society.’

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