Joining Theory and Empiricism in the remaking of the African Humanities : A transcontinental collaboration

Welcome to the on-line home of the collaboration between the African Studies Center at the University of Michigan and WISER at the University of the Witwatersrand.

For more information on this program please read the original funding proposal and review the archives of the Sugarman listserv.  Most of the documentation, and on-line scholarly debate is taking place on this list, and if you would like to join it please contact Keith Breckenridge. 

A very simple, and preliminary assessment of individuals' interests is available here.

Workshop 13 :  The World is Ending Again | Magaliesberg, May 2023

Workshop 12 :  Humanities After Polycrisis | Salt Rock, June 2022

In the wake of the COVID19 Crisis, this meeting at the Salt Rock Hotel brought together small groups of scholars from WISER and the Humanities Institute at the University of Michigan.  From Wits Faculty of Humanities, Dean Garth Stevens and Professors Musemwa attended and from WISER,  Professors Nuttall, Mbembe, Mokoena and Breckenridge.  From Michigan, Benedito Machava, Zehra Hashmi, Peggy McCracken, Kristin Hass and Derek Peterson.  The problem for the meeting was "Humanities after Polycrisis" and much of our time was spent in thinking through strategies for funding and collaboration.

Workshop 11 :  Historical and contemporary expressions of populism in Africa and beyond | Ann Arbor | November 17 - 19, 2019


Workshop 9 'Intellectual and Cultural Life under Conditions of Austerity', 4-7 June 2018 Maputo Call for Proposals, Conference Programme and Photograph.

Workshop 8 Decolonizing Sites of Culture in Africa and Beyond November 20-22, 2017

Rackham Graduate School, 4th Floor Assembly Hall, 915 E Washington St, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109, USA. Details »

Workshop 7 Performance Arts & Political Action  June 22-29, 2017, Maropeng Hotel, Gauteng, South Africa

Workshop 6  Political Subjectivities and Popular Protest: Transnational Flows and Vernacular Knowledges 14 - 19 November 2016

Workshop 5 Technology Studies in Africa

This workshop will take place in Durban and Johannesburg in July 2016.  The organisers are Paul Edwards and Gabrielle Hecht and Keith Breckenridge and Faeeza Ballim. 

Workshop 4 History after EP Thompson

The fourth workshop will take place in Ann Arbor between November 11 and 18, 2015, on the problem of the effects of EP Thompson's writing on historical scholarship.  Many researchers at Wits and Michigan share a common interest in the theoretical problems of writing emprically driven social history of Thompsonian provenance. These theoretical concerns allow for a productive comparative dialogue about capitalism, class and culture across very diverse national contexts.  The call for participation in this workshop is available here.  The event is being organised by Stephen Sparks, Geoff Eley, Sarah Duff and Keith Breckenridge.

Workshop 3 Public Space, Infrastructure, and Informality in the Splintering City

The third workshop in this series will take place from the 4th May to the 10 May 2015 in Johannesburg, South Africa on the theme of “Public Space, Infrastructure, and Informality in the Splintering City”. The workshop will explore a variety of pressing questions in contemporary urban theory with the aim of facilitating discussions about contemporary urbanism that draw from a variety of fieldwork experiences and theoretical backgrounds. Issues addressed will include the study of aesthetics, the question of informality, and critical approaches to studying infrastructure.  The workshop will be centred on panels where participants will present their own research relating to the workshop themes. There will also be a number of study tours around the city of Johannesburg to link the questions raised in the panels to the larger urban context. Please be aware that all participants will be required to either present a paper or chair a panel. All papers will have to be made available at least two weeks before the workshop as they will form the basis for the workshop’s discussions. The proposal for the meeting and individual sessions is available here and the form for the submission of proposals for participation is here (please note that proposals must be submitted before February 15.)

Workshop 2 African Studies in the Digital Age

The second meeting -- on Intellectual property and curatorship in the digital humanities -- will be held in Ann Arbor between November 8 and 18, 2014.   A draft schedule of the events is available at

Workshop 1  The Global South as a source of Theory

The first meeting of the program of collaboration was held in Johannesburg between May 5 and 17, 2014.  The full programme of those events is available here : Workshop 1 : The Global South as a source of Theory and a list of the participants, with their interests is here.  And the planned outcomes are discussed on the list at