History and Policy Workshop

 Registration is closed for this event
Beyond Governmentality and the Developmental State: Lessons and problems for History and Policy

Beyond Governmentality and Developmentalism: The Infrastructure of Citizenship

Saturday, 7 July, 2012 - 08:30

A WISER workshop on lessons and problems for History and Policy

Supported by the National Research Foundation and the Wits Faculty of Humanities

Opposing ideas have come to dominate the fields of social science and policy making in contemporary South Africa (as in many other societies). On the one hand, in the social sciences, the Foucauldian concept of governmentality, which stresses the coercive manner in which science-driven state interventions in Europe made the well-being of the population the source of state legitimacy, is widely applied. On the other, in policy making, comparative political economy and development studies, the idea of an aggressive and confident developmental state (derived from Chalmers' and Evans' work on Japan and Korea) directing growth and the distribution of wealth, has become the watchword of many government and political researchers. Yet neither concept works particularly well in contemporary South Africa.

Social scientists and policy-makers now agree on the importance of state institutions to the long-term prospects of well-being and prosperity but, to date, they have not been able to conduct a mutually helpful discussion about the origins and workings of these institutions. Some of this breakdown has to do with vocabulary, but much of it follows from the assumptions implicit in each field. This workshop will address this gap by bringing together specialists in each of these fields to consider the workings of the state in South Africa comparing them with a series of detailed international studies. The objective will be to provide both fields with a more substantial, detailed and differentiated understanding of the work of state institutions that are currently very poorly understood in both fields.

This Workshop will draw, in part, on research that was funded in 2010 by the British Academy on a global comparative history of identity registration, and which will shortly appear as a book, the details of which are available from OUP. That volume brings together a group of eminent regional specialists to consider the political and economic history of identity registration. South African history, with its long and brutal preoccupation with systems of identity registration, provided a key comparative point for the overall study which, in turn, also highlights the institutional weaknesses of the contemporary state in Africa.   Professor Simon Szreter is one of the founders of the UK History and Policy Network and WISER hopes that this event will serve to initiate a similar local discussion of the relationship between historical scholarship and well informed policy.


Time: 8:30 – Introductions with coffee and pastries:

Keith Breckenridge “South African state-making in global perspective”
Simon Szreter “History and Policy”

Time: 9:15 to 11:00am – The Limits and Capacities of the 20th Century State in South Africa

Andrew Macdonald “The Identity Thieves of the Indian Ocean: Forgery, Fraud and the Origins of South African Immigration Control, 1890s - 1920s”

Keith Breckenridge “No Will to Know: The Rise and Fall of African Civil Registration in Twentieth-Century South Africa”

Bill Freund “The South African Developmental State under the helm of the National Party 1948-1990”

11:00 to 11:15 Tea / Coffee

Time: 11:15 to 12:45pm – Identity Registration in Global Comparative Perspective

Simon Szreter “Registration of Identities in Early Modern English Parishes and amongst the English Overseas”

Richard von Glahn “Household Registration, Property Rights and Social Obligations in Imperial China: Principles and Practices”

Henk Looijesteijn (and Marco H D van Leeuwen) “Establishing and Registering Identity in the Dutch Republic”

12:45 to 1:30 Lunch

Time: 1: 30 to 2:50pm – The Significance of the Contemporary South African Welfare State

Shireen Hassim “Families and Entitlements”

Francie Lund “Children, Citizenship and Child Support: The Child Support Grant in Post-Apartheid South Africa”

Jeremy Seekings Developmentalism and Welfarism: The Idea of Citizenship and the Politics of Reform”

Time: 3:00pm Public discussion with the Johannesburg Workshop on Theory and Criticism : Beyond Governmentality and the Normalisation of Disaster.

July 7th, 2012 from  8:30 AM to  5:30 PM
28 Jorissen Street, Braamfontein
WISER, 6th Floor Richard Ward Building
University of the Witwatersrand
Johannesburg, 2050
South Africa