Recent and upcoming events

Very Long Engagements: Legal Consciousness and the Persistent Authority of Bridewealth in a South African Community

Event type: 
Seminar
Date and time: 
Tuesday, 12 August, 2014 - 13:00 to 14:00
Presenter(s): 
Michael W. Yarbrough, John Jay College (CUNY)
Venue: 
CSSR Seminar Room 4.29, Level 4 Leslie Social Science Building.
Abstract / Description: 

 

The most important practice through which marriages are constituted in many African communities in South Africa today is ilobolo, often translated as bridewealth. Meanwhile, marriage rates in such communities are sharply declining, and many locals view ilobolo as a key contributor to this collapse. Through intensive ethnographic research in a quasi-rural KwaZulu-Natal community, this article explores the puzzle of how ilobolo maintains its authority over marriage even as many today see it as preventing more marriages than it produces. Drawing on the concepts of legal consciousness scholarship, I argue that the contemporary practice of ilobolo often enacts multiple, even contradictory understandings of marriage. But rather than undermining support for ilobolo, these diverse meanings actually help shore up its support by providing multiple legitimating narratives of the practice suited to varying social positions in a context of ideological, legal, political, and economic change. In particular, I argue that orthodox "affinal" understandings framing ilobolo as a practice for bringing two extended families together in marriage are increasingly supplemented by less explicitly recognized "conjugal" understandings framing ilobolo as a practice that helps produce marriage as a dyadic, intimate, and even egalitarian union of two individuals.

South Africa’s Emerging Black Middle Class: A Harbinger of Change?

Event type: 
Seminar
Date and time: 
Tuesday, 5 August, 2014 - 13:00 to 14:00
Presenter(s): 
Professor Robert Mattes
Venue: 
CSSR Seminar Room 4.29, Level 4 Leslie Social Science Building.
Abstract / Description: 

In this article I explore whether members of South Africa's emerging black middle class exhibit different political values,evaluations, and behaviours than the other black citizens. Futhermore, I explore whether the impact of class is due to physiological security or higher levels of education, as well as whether the impact of either of these markers of class are greater for yournger middle class blacks who have grown up under conditions of abundance or with higher education. I find that the attitudinal consequences of indicators of the middle class are inconsistent and sometimes contradictory. There is little evidence that the emerging black middle class is either more or less loyal to the governing ANC,though they are more positive in their evaluations of government action. The are signs however, that they are less likely to take part in a range of campaign, and inter-election democratic activities.

 

Making New Metaphors for AIDS

Event type: 
Seminar
Date and time: 
Tuesday, 22 July, 2014 - 13:00 to 14:00
Presenter(s): 
Gerry Kearns
Venue: 
CSSR Seminar Room 4.29, Level 4 Leslie Social Science Building, Upper Campus
Abstract / Description: 

Metaphors may be harmful or helpful, but they are probably inevitable where people wish to draw attention to social or medical issues. In this paper, I discuss the role of metaphor within epidemiology, and the work of artists and cultural activists both in challenging and crafting alternative metaphors about HIV/AIDS.

 

Workshop on Social Protection in Africa

Event type: 
Workshop
Date and time: 
Thursday, 29 May, 2014 - 09:00 to Friday, 30 May, 2014 - 16:00
Presenter(s): 
Multiple presenters
Venue: 
Rm 4.29, Leslie Social Science Building
Abstract / Description: 

The CSSR is hosting a workshop on Thursday and Friday, 29th/30th May 2014, on social protection in South Africa and elsewhere in Africa. We anticipate panels organized around the following themes:

  • History of welfare policy in South Africa
  • Street-level bureaucrats and the administration of welfare programmes
  • Pensions, grants and ‘community’ politics
  • The politics of pilot programmes in Southern and East Africa
  • The national politics of policy-making

 

In addition to the panels, we anticipate also two ‘plenary’ talks. One will be given by Professor Sarah Brooks of Ohio State University, on the comparative politics of conditional cash transfers. Professor Brooks is the author of Social Protection and the Market in Latin America (Cambridge UP, 2009).

Those who would like to present a paper or attend are advised to contact Prof Jeremy Seekings (see the attached invitation).

Young,High and Dangerous: Youth Gangs and Violence in Khayelitsha

Event type: 
Seminar
Date and time: 
Wednesday, 28 May, 2014 - 13:00 to 14:00
Presenter(s): 
Pharie Sefali,GroundUp Response by Don Pinnock ,Centre of Criminology,UCT
Venue: 
CSSR Seminar Room 4.29, Level 4 Leslie Social Science Building, Upper Campus

Voting Without a Co-ethnic: Ethnic Proximity and Coloured Voting Preferences

Event type: 
Seminar
Date and time: 
Tuesday, 20 May, 2014 - 13:00 to 14:00
Presenter(s): 
Adam Harris (visiting PhD student, New York University)
Venue: 
CSSR Seminar Room 4.29, Level 4 Leslie Social Science Building, Upper Campus
Abstract / Description: 

Much of the ethnic politics and African politics literatures repeatedly find that people vote for their co-ethnics. These literatures are generally silent on the role ethnicity plays for those who do not have a co-ethnic candidate for whom to vote and often implicitly assumes ethnicity does not matter for such individuals' political behaviour. However, on average, 40% Africans, on average, will face a presidential election in which they have no co-ethnic candidate. How does ethnicity influence these voters' preferences? This paper uses the concept of ethnic proximity along the dimensions of language, race, religion, and region to understand the behaviour of such voters. This paper is part of a larger project that is the first to seriously conceptualize and operationalize ethnicity as continuous. I measure ethnic proximity for the Coloured population in South Africa and find that racial proximity to candidates significantly predicts the voting preferences of members of this ethnic group. 

Choosing care: Narratives of Interference

Event type: 
Seminar
Date and time: 
Tuesday, 13 May, 2014 - 13:00 to 14:00
Presenter(s): 
Nicole Daniels ((CSSR/Sociology)
Venue: 
CSSR Seminar Room 4.29, Level 4 Leslie Social Science Building, Upper Campus
Abstract / Description: 

While the literature on home birth emphasises women’s capacity to relate to birth in deeply meaningful terms, less attention has been paid to ‘interferences’ in this process. The extent to which women’s birthing needs are met relates to their capacity to make meaningful birth choices. By drawing on four case studies of South African home birthers, this paper examines the kinds of care which generate a sense of containment and continual relationship for birthing women, despite interference. Where home births validate and affirm the psycho-social nature of relational birthing subjects; being supported, being seen and being heard, translates into a social environment of care. Subjective interpretations of what matters most, narrated by home birthers in relationship with partners and caregivers, describe social environments which uphold safety, intimacy, connection, and agency. Homes are not controlled environments, so the inconsistency between narrated birth and actual birth experiences offers an interesting vantage point on the social contexts that generate empowered birthing selves. The care afforded home birthers allows them to create and maintain safe birth spaces, even as homes - bridges of public/private divides - intrude on relational selves. This research adds to an understanding of the consequences of women’s birth choices. By foregrounding interference, this paper highlights that choices (contested as they are) remain fundamental to women’s experiences of birth.

Discussion on the "Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry" into Policing in Khayelitsha.

Event type: 
Seminar
Date and time: 
Tuesday, 6 May, 2014 - 13:00 to 14:00
Presenter(s): 
Adam Armstrong (CSSR/GroundUp) and Sebastian Saborio (visiting PhD student, University of Urbino)
Venue: 
CSSR Seminar Room 4.29 Level 4 Leslie Social Science Building Upper Campus
Abstract / Description: 

Just as the Marikana Commission has put public order policing under a spotlight, the O'Regan Commission on policing in Khayelitsha is subjecting routine policing to unprecedented scrutiny. Adam has attended almost every session of the Commission to date, filing almost daily reports for GroundUp - the online community media site run by the CSSR at UCT and the Community Media Trust (see www.groundup.org.za). Sebastian is a visiting PhD student, writing his PhD on policing poor neighbourhoods in Rio da Janeiro and Cape Town. He spent several months embedded with the police in Rio's favelas, and is now attending the Khayelitsha Commission to see how Cape Town is policed. 

Insecure Democracy: Risk, Vulnerability and Democratic Rights in Brazil

Event type: 
Seminar
Date and time: 
Tuesday, 29 April, 2014 - 13:00 to 14:00
Presenter(s): 
Sarah Brooks (Ohio State)
Venue: 
CSSR Seminar Room 4.29 Level 4 Leslie Social Science Building Upper Campus
Abstract / Description: 

Latin American nations have undergone dramatic transitions to democracy and open markets in recent decades. Such changes have exposed citizens to high levels of economic volatility and insecurity, while at the same time expanding the possibilities for citizens to hold governments to account and to demand compensation for such hardships. Recent research indicates that even as economic insecurity has risen and social insurance programs have been retrenched, civil society in Latin America has remained relatively quiescent, with low levels of political participation. This paper tests the hypothesis that insecurity (defined as exposure to risk and lack of adequate means to hedge that risk) has a dampening effect on citizens’ propensity to engage in different forms of political life, such as attending municipal meetings and neighborhood organizations, and engaging in protest. Data from a 2009 nation-wide survey in Brazil reveal that individuals who have access to more extensive means of risk protection, all else being equal, are systematically more likely to participate actively in the more moderate and sustained forms of democratic politics, such as neighborhood associations and municipal meetings. This is not the case for protest activity, however, which is likely to entail very different calculations of risk and reward. The results of the analysis are preliminary, but indicate a sharp cleavage of insecurity that coincides with widening fault lines of political engagement in Brazil.

The politics of cash transfers in Uganda

Event type: 
Seminar
Date and time: 
Tuesday, 15 April, 2014 - 13:00 to 14:00
Presenter(s): 
Eduard Grebe (CSSR)
Venue: 
Rm 4.29, Leslie Social Science Building
Abstract / Description: 

This paper reviews the politics of welfare policy-making in Uganda, specifically as it relates to planning, gaining political support for, financing, implementing and scaling up cash transfer schemes. Uganda is a low-income country, but has made substantial developmental strides since the Museveni/NRM regime came to power in 1986, including relatively high rates of economic growth and reductions in poverty. However, chronic poverty persists and a large proportion of the non-poor are classified as vulnerable. Development policy has, and continues to be, focused on infrastructure development and facilitating private sector growth (earning Uganda darling status among proponents of the ‘Washington consensus’). But it has also adopted some pro-poor policies like substantial increases in social expenditure (principally health and education). Social protection has, however, lagged behind other developmental interventions and cash transfers are a recent phenomenon, with the first large-scale pilot being implemented from 2010. The Social Assistance Grants for Empowerment scheme (a pilot social pension and vulnerable families grant) has been implemented in fourteen districts with strong donor support. The scheme is largely funded by DfID, enjoys substantial donor technical support and followed an extensive agenda-setting and promotion exercise by donors and their civil society allies. National rollout of a social pension is firmly on the policy agenda and appears to have gained strong support in recent years (especially among legislators who see electoral advantages and sections of the bureaucracy) and is popular among the public. But sections of the Ugandan political elite remain sceptical, owing to concerns over ‘dependency’, adverse incentives, affordability and sustainability. Given the authoritarian, patronage-based and personalised character of the Museveni regime, presidential support for scale-up is seen as key, but Museveni’s support remains uncertain. While previous pro-poor initiatives appeared to have been driven by electoral pressures, the NRM has never faced a substantial electoral challenge and institutional reforms appear to have stalled. The paper concludes that donor-driven promotion of cash transfers has been surprisingly effective, but that the future of cash transfers are by no means ensured. Questions over political support, resource availability and technical capacity to implement a national programme remain.

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