WiSER welcomes you to its 2022 program.

Friday, 11 February, 2022 - 09:30

The Institute will host its weekly WISH seminar, each Monday in term time from 4-5pm (Johannesburg time).
This will be held online and the programme for the first semester can be found here.

The Public Positions series will run from March to September this year. Part One (March-June) which will focus on the role of Science and Technology Studies in securing planetary life. Speakers will include Manjari Mahajan (9 March), Sheila Jasanoff (6 April), Amade M’Charek (4 May) and Abou Farman (1 June). Part Two (July-September) will focus on Mapping Africa’s Bioregions. Specifically, it will take up questions relating to mobility and the shifting role of borders in an era of climate change and transnational and extra-state networks. More details on the topic, speakers and final dates will available at this link

The WISER Podcast
which has attracted 28 000
listeners since it launched in April 2020,
will resume mid-year, with new content and new formats.

The Oceanic Humanities Progamme at WISER will host the following events:
(1) A joint launch in March of Isabel Hofmeyr’s Dockside Reading: Hydrocolonialism and the Custom House (Duke University Press, 2022) and Charne Lavery’s Writing Ocean Worlds: Indian Ocean Fiction in English
(Palgrave Macmillan, 2021)
(2) The launch of Marigold Oceanic Beads in March/April
(3) ‘Oceans from the South: Currents and Futures’ Symposium on 28 July

After Decolonization?
Five years after renewed decolonization debates first challenged South African universities, and many institutions across the world, to rethink their institutional structures and cultures, and nearly fifty years after African decolonization processes on the rest of the African continent, it is important to ask, in both a contemporary and historical vein: what happens after decolonization? The current global debate assigns institutional and academic processes to an endless present of ‘decolonizing’, with their epistemological and political horizons uncertain but also with the co-optation of such processes by the academic North and the continuing brain drain of African academics to northern institutions. In the context of unfairly distributed knowledge regimes and economic disparities of an enormous order, it seems time to revisit the question of the future. WISER will run a two-year programme, funded by the Oppenheimer Memorial Trust on this topic. Please see the link to this project here

The History of Black Lawyers in South Africa
Parallel to a rising interest in the globalization of the contemporary legal profession, locally based scholarship on the history of black lawyers has seen a recent mini-boom.  One focus has been the role of lawyers in nationally constitutive thought.  Another theme has been the recovery and uncovering of several distinct internal professional borders.  Some of this scholarship also takes a resolutely regional perspective, exploring multiple aspects of several Southern African borders.  This project in the histories of black lawyers works with and alongside these growing strands of scholarship, aiming to critically explore the construction and participation of black legal professionals in the South(ern) African legal and social orders. See the link here

Revisiting The Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act of 1949
The Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act (Act no.55 of 1949) was one of the first pieces of apartheid legislation to be passed by the National Party as it came to power in 1948. Subsequent legislation, including the Population Registration and Immorality Acts of 1950, facilitated its implementation by requiring all South Africans to register as members of one of four officially defined racial groups. By regulating the intimacies of sexuality, the Act was central to processes of solidifying racial categories. The enforcement of the Act was handed over to the police – until it was repealed in 1985. This research project re-reads and re-examines the Act; considers its consequences in subsequent decades and into the present and opens up discussion about the how the long history of ‘inter-racial’ relationships, including marriages, have been framed over time. We’ll look at amendments to the Act made along the way as well as distinctions between the legal institution of marriage and the regulation of sexual intimacies that all of this raises.

Digital Humanities
The Burden of Preservation: Institutional Archival Expectations and Capacities in the 21st century

Universities on the African continent confront an acute, increasingly unmanageable, archival responsibility as the largest firms, organisations, many divisions of the state and individuals scramble to shed unique collections of documents and objects.  At the same time institutions find themselves under great pressure to move teaching, research and resources on to the web, and they can access a host of cost-efficient products and firms that will support this transformation.  Identifying and protecting the archival collections that are unique to our regions currently falls on small and poorly resourced divisions of the universities, yet, in many respects, this work is essential to the globally distinctive intellectual project of each institution.  This workshop will gather papers that map this landscape, consider its implications for scholarship and politics, and set out strategies for strengthening the universities' archival capacities.

Art Deco in Africa
For this online archival project, we invite colleagues from across the African continent to send us their photographs of Art Deco built environments where they live or have visited.  That Art Deco features across the continent—north to south, east to west (from Angola to Mozambique to Algeria, and from Egypt to the DRC to South Africa)— suggests its potential for a rich visual archive in-the-making. Photographs could include specific buildings (residential flats and houses, hotels, office, municipal and commercial spaces), and/or particular Art Deco stylistic features such as lighting, fonts, or paint colours.  We hope to build an open-access archive that creatively documents a continent-wide design and architectural form which attests to Art Deco’s enduring role in city life across the diversity of the African continent.

Occasional Lunch time seminars, following a hybrid model of either in-person or online.

*We will aim to record all in-person events*