The WISER Podcast | Travelling Technology | Big infrastructures, small devices | Part 2

Thursday, 15 April, 2021 - 16:00

Today we release Part Two of our next mini-series of The WISER Podcast. This two-part series takes as its theme Travelling Technology. It draws on research led by Prof Richard Rottenburg at WISER spanning 15 African countries and focusing on large technical systems as well as stand-alone devices to reflect on the amalgamation of techno-science with social, political, juridical and cultural elements in concrete African contexts beyond the modernist binary of nature and culture.

In this podcast, after a brief introduction by Sizwe Mpofu-Walsh (WISER) we hear from  Katrien Pype (KU Leuven) on “radio phonie” in Kinshasa, and then Sara Geenen with Simon Marijse (U Antwerp) tell the story of the “scaphandre” on the Congolese Shabunda river. The two detailed studies show moments of translation in the circulation of technologies and challenge the difference between innovation, tweaking and improvisation.

 

The members of the WISER Podcast team are Sarah Nuttall, Sizwe Mpofu-Walsh, Isabel Hofmeyr, Tinashe Mushakavanhu, Mpho Matsipa, Achille Mbembe and Bronwyn Kotzen.

Podcasts

Wednesday, 1 February, 2023 - 12:00

In this week’s episode, Anneke Rautenbach discusses how, when the writer Bessie Head escaped apartheid South Africa and settled in the rural village of Serowe, Botswana, she remained haunted by the violence of her past. In her work on experimental development farms, alongside locals and foreign volunteers, she discovered not only a source of healing, but a subterranean moral philosophy.

Anneke Rautenbach spent time in residence at WiSER in 2022, participated in The WiSER Podcast group and travelled from there to Botswana to conduct archival research at the Bessie Head Papers in Serowe. She is currently a doctoral candidate in the Department of Comparative Literature at New York University, where she is completing a dissertation on the role of the public intellectual in southern Africa. The PhD focuses on flashpoint moments in recent history when language played a particularly dynamic role -- from anticolonial prophecy to nationalist sloganeering to the metaphors of the HIV/AIDS crisis.

The WiSER Podcast Team this year is convened by Sarah Nuttall, sound editing by Sizwe Mpofu-Walsh and designs by Bronwyn Kotzen.

Saturday, 1 October, 2022 - 00:00

In this episode of The WiSER Podcast, Cheikh BA discusses the Senegal River as an intense node of knowledge making. He discusses how those who live alongside it observe, name and think about its flows, quantities, evolutions, water paths and distribution. He also shows how,  in parallel and sometimes in confrontation, the "modern management" of natural resources translates into developmental and technocratic visions. He invites listeners to reflect with him on ways of encountering this riverine landscape, actually or in our imaginations.

Cheikh BA is a Post-Doctoral Fellow in WiSER’s Regions2050 Research Programme and works on local notions of environmental justice, decolonisation of environmental knowledge and the ecological history of territorial governance in West Africa.

The WiSER Podcast Team this year is convened by Sarah Nuttall, sound editing by Sizwe Mpofu-Walsh and designs by Bronwyn Kotzen.

Friday, 29 July, 2022 - 12:00


In this episode, Caio Simões de Araújo discusses the politics of infrastructure in Southern Africa, taking as an entry point the Maputo-Katembe bridge, inaugurated in 2018. Araújo argues that the bridge is part of a renewed public investment in infrastructure enabled by Chinese cooperation in Africa. Yet, rather than a straightforward road into the future, the bridge is embedded in a highly complex set of temporal landscapes  - ones that warrant close and careful analysis.  

 

Caio Simoes De Araujo is a post-doctoral researcher in the Regions2050 programme at WiSER. He is the editor of A Luta Continua, 40 anos depois: Histórias Entrelaçadas da África Austral (Alcance, 2017). Related to this podcast is a short experimental film "The bridge", which is about the inauguration of the bridge back in 2018. The film is included in the online exhibition, Archive of Forgetfulness: https://archiveofforgetfulness.com  

Monday, 13 June, 2022 - 20:00

In Episode One of Season Five of The WiSER Podcast, the Reverend Frank Chikane and his son Regotsofetse Chikane, recollect and discuss the moment – separated by 30 years – they were each arrested for treason – by the apartheid and post-apartheid states, successively. As prominent anti-apartheid activist and #FeesMustFall activist respectively, they retell their experiences  - and the conversation reflects on the state of a democratic South Africa, the current dangers it faces and what choosing to fight for a more democratic state has meant and will come to mean, then and now.

Regotsofetse Chikane is a Lecturer in the School of Governance and a visiting research fellow at WiSER.

The WiSER Podcast Team this year is convened by Sarah Nuttall, sound editing by Sizwe Mpofu-Walsh and designs by Bronwyn Kotzen.

Monday, 6 June, 2022 - 17:00

 

We are pleased to announce that later this week, Season Five of The WiSER Podcast will be launched. The Institute will release episodes every ten days or so between June and October. The first four seasons of The WiSER Podcast attracted over 28 000 listeners and we invite you to tune in to our new season’s offerings, featuring the work of WiSER researchers. Most episodes will be 15 minutes long and can be listened to via a range of social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram, Apple and Spotify. We encourage you to circulate episodes you find compelling via your own channels. Upcoming episodes include -

Rekgotsofetse Chikane in discussion with his father Rev Frank Chikane focuses on the extraordinary fact that they were both, in different eras of South African politics, accused of treason – by the apartheid and the post-apartheid state – and what these experiences meant for them and for each other.

Tim Wright explores a small and fascinating node of vampire culture in Johannesburg and ways in which Joburg vampires become caught up in the networks and economies of the city.

Caio Simoes De Araujo talks about the new Maputo-Katembe bridge, linking Mozambique and South Africa and what it tells us about shifting, infrastructurally mediated relations in the region, not least by Chinese interests.

Simon van Schalkwyk discusses our new nuclear age, the re-emergence of a long latent Cold War atavism, including the politics of containment and psycho-warfare. Online ‘nuke maps’ mean you can now simulate he effects of nuclear strikes anywhere in the world. He sets the location for Braamfontain, Johannesburg and sees what (would) happen.

 

And much more….

 

The WiSER Podcast Team this year is convened by Sarah Nuttall, sound editing by Sizwe Mpofu-Walsh and designs by Bronwyn Kotzen.

Friday, 11 February, 2022 - 09:30

In Episode One of Season Five of The WiSER Podcast, the Reverend Frank Chikane and his son Regotsofetse Chikane, recollect and discuss the moment – separated by 30 years – they were each arrested for treason – by the apartheid and post-apartheid states, successively. As prominent anti-apartheid activist and #FeesMustFall activist respectively, they retell their experiences  - and the conversation reflects on the state of a democratic South Africa, the current dangers it faces and what choosing to fight for a more democratic state has meant and will come to mean, then and now.

Friday, 12 November, 2021 - 11:30

This week we release Season 4 of The WISER Podcast. The Season has offered mixed formats as we have responded to rollercoaster of events: we have pondered othe July uprisings in South Africa, marked Women’s month and the struggle against GBV in this country and elsewhere, celebrated WISER’s 20th anniversary, as well as featured new work on Zimbabwe after Mugabe and on Botswanan artist Meleko Mokgosi’s paintingsTaken together, the Season offers a window into the wide range of WISER’s work, workings and history. All episodes of the final Season of the year are featured at this link: https://wiser.wits.ac.za/event/wiser-podcast

As we close this Season, we would like to express our gratitude for the work done by our WISER Podcast designer, Bronwyn Kotzen. Each week, Bronwyn produces exceptional design work for our next episode, finding a visual language which captures an aspect or more of the episode at hand. One of the best moments for The Podcast Team is awaiting Bronwyn’s banner designs for that week, turning the behind the scenes hard work of making the podcast into a visually rendered reality. Bronwyn is an architect, researcher and writer with a Masters in Architecture from Wits and a Master of Science from the LSE. She is currently working on a PhD entitled Liquid Concrete which traces the flow of cement across sub-Saharan Africa, as a lens through which to examine the relationship between materiality, science, technology, and space.  She is also co-editor and project manager on the forthcoming five part book series, Translating Technology in Africa. Sending our warm thanks to Bronwyn from the podcast team – Sarah Nuttall, Sizwe Mpofu-Walsh, Tinashe Mushakavanhu, Isabel Hofmeyr and Achille Mbembe.

Thursday, 4 November, 2021 - 14:30

In this week’s episode we present Part Two of our mini-series on the work of Botswanan artist Meleko Mokgosi by Hlonipha Mokoena of WISER. Last week, Mokoena offered an analysis of Mokgosi’s paintings from multiple perspectives. In today’s episode she speaks to the artist himself, a wide-ranging and fascinating discussion which takes up many of the issues introduced last week.

 

The members of The WISER Podcast Team are Sarah Nuttall, Sizwe Mpofu-Walsh, Tinashe Mushakavanhu, Isabel Hofmeyr and Achille Mbembe.   

Thursday, 28 October, 2021 - 14:00

Today we release the first of a two-part podcast series which focuses on the work of Botswanan artist Meleko Mokgosi. In today’s episode, Hlonipha Mokoena, Associate Professor at WISER, discusses his work. “There seems to be no better time than the present for us to have a conversation about what it means to be a black artist who paints black subjects”, says Mokoena, as she draws on her recent writing about the artist. How can we think about the politics of the intimate in Mokgosi’s work? What Southern diasporas within diasporas are revealed? What is Mokgosi’s version of black internationalism? And what are the meanings of his incorporation of images of Frederick Douglas in his paintings? All this and more is opened up in what follows. In next week’s episode, Mokoena talks to the artist himself in a fascinating interview that takes up many of the themes she introduces to us today. Meleko Mokgosi was born in 1981 in Botswana. He is currently Associate Professor in Painting/Printmaking at the Yale School of Art. He is represented in South Africa by Stevenson Gallery and in the USA by Jack Shainman Gallery. His artwork may be viewed at these websites: https://www.stevenson.info/artist/meleko-mokgosi/biography https://jackshainman.com/artists/meleko_mokgosi https://www.melekomokgosi.com The members of The WISER Podcast Team are Sarah Nuttall, Sizwe Mpofu-Walsh, Tinashe Mushakavanhu, Isabel Hofmeyr and Achille Mbembe.

Thursday, 14 October, 2021 - 13:00

This week’s episode is the third in our series celebrating WISER At Twenty.

Today we hear from Najibha Deshmukh, WISER’s Senior Administrator and Adila Deshmukh, WISER’s Financial Manager. Najibha and Adila, who are sisters, give us their take on life at WISER, offering an inside view of everyday life, from both the front desk and the Institute’s financial office. In a richly nuanced and finely observed  - and often very funny – set of observations, they reveal aspects of their own stories over the last two decades, of the pressures and pleasures of their jobs, and of the lives, minds and foibles of academics at work. They talk about the joys of seeing students graduate and become professors – and about some of the strangest requests they received over the years. It’s a wonderful listen and will give you a new perspective on the academy – enjoy!

 

The members of The WiSER Podcast team are Sarah Nuttall, Sizwe Mpofu-Walsh, Isabel Hofmeyr, Tinashe Mushakavanhu and Achille Mbembe.