The Conversation

PROF Peter Vale, Director of JIAS, writes for The Conversation, the independent, non-profit website for academics and researchers. Links to his contributions appear below.


Look to China for the main beneficiary of America’s likely retreat from Africa

An interview with Prof Gregory F Treverton, a world authority on security and intelligence, who directed the US National Intelligence Council in the Obama Administration.

The humanities: looking the past in the eye

Next year, South Africa’s Stellenbosch University will celebrate its centenary. A recent conference to discuss the anniversary has reminded everyone present that knowledge is a fickle mistress. February 21, 2017


Donald Trump’s foreign policy on Africa is likely to be: ‘Where’s that?’

The world’s best known talk show host has become the president-elect of the most powerful country in the world. Trump running the US is unlikely to be good news for Africa. November 9, 2016

Creating a new humanities menu without the intellectual junk food of neoliberal thought

Talking about food is a productive way to understand a complex world. The dinner table is a place where the shame of poverty is most acutely experienced. August 8, 2016

Book review: finding a vocabulary to judge Thabo Mbeki

Former South African President Thabo Mbeki remains a puzzle to many of his compatriots. A new book, The Thabo Mbeki I Know, will help them to understand him better. July 11, 2016

Pressure to publish is choking the academic profession

The unavoidable regime of publication pervades contemporary academic life across the world. While presented as a virtuous thing, it can actually suffocate the academic profession. With Steven Karataglidis, University of Johannesburg. July 6, 2016

Southern Africa is hobbled by the language and legacy of its histories

One of the many intriguing ideas of the Austrian philosopher, Ludwig Wittgenstein, was this: the limits of my language means the limits of my world. Does this explain the failure to see the gathering gloom across Southern Africa? February 21, 2016

Our understanding of states, sovereignty and statelessness is being tested

In contrast to what we have been taught – or teach our students – we are living in an increasingly hybrid world. January 25, 2016


States and gangs: the difficult search for new ways to run the world

Reflections on a new biography of Jan Smuts, and entitled ‘New configurations of international order: values, principles, alliances and alignments’, organised by a Brazilian think-tank and Wilton Park. December 1, 2015

Why it’s time South Africa’s foreign policy was driven by ideas (again)

Over the past two decades, it has not been easy for any country – let alone a newly freed one, like post-apartheid South Africa – to understand the rapidly changing world. November 11, 2015

Book review: Selling Apartheid – South Africa’s Global Propaganda War

The infamous Muldergate scandal of the 1970s was the exemplar case of apartheid’s “unorthodox diplomacy” of buying influence around the world. October 20, 2015

What South Africa will be sacrificing by hosting the Commonwealth Games

By investing in the 2022 Commonwealth Games, South Africa sacrifices investment in pressing societal needs. Instead, the country should be mobilised around the national goal of fixing schooling. September 8, 2015