On 11th and 12th February, the National Research Foundation Chair in Customary Law at UCT*, Prof. Chuma Himonga, in collaboration with Dr. Elena Moore and the National Movement of Rural Women, hosted a workshop on the findings of a study on The Operation of the Recognition of Customary Marriages Act (RCMA) and Rules of Intestate Succession in the Constitutional Court decision in Bhe v Magistrate Khayelitsha. The Dean of the Law Faculty, Professor Pamela Schwikkard, opened the workshop.
The Imitation Game is a new sociological method. It can be used to measure the extent to which different social groups understand each other and provides a new topography of social integration. In this talk, we will outline the theory behind the method and illustrate its application with examples drawn from studies investigating religion, gender, race and sexuality.
Does democracy affect the delivery of essential basic services? And if yes, which elements of democracy trigger changes in implemented policies: enfranchisement, the liberalization of political organization, or both? In 1994, 19 million South Africans gained the right to vote. The ANC promised “a better life for all” including improved household access to electricity. Using a difference-in-differences approach, we exploit heterogeneity in the share of newly enfranchised voters across municipalities to evaluate how franchise extension affected household electrification. Our dataset combines geo-referenced nightlight satellite imagery, 1996 and 2001 census data, and 1995/6 municipal election results. Enfranchisement has a significant positive effect on electrification, but the liberalization of political organization matters, too. Our analysis highlights the potential mediating role of political parties in accounting for service delivery patterns in new democracies.
Last week the National Union of Metalworkers (NUMSA) - now South Africa's largest trade union - considered the experience of "united fronts" as part of its week-long "Political School" for shop stewards and organisers. NUMSA has made waves by ending its formal support for the ANC, calling on COSATU to end its alliance with the ANC, proposing the formation of a worker's party and/or a united front of unions and community-based organisations committed to progressive change. CSSR Director Jeremy Seekings spoke at the NUMSA School on the experiences of the "UDF" , drawing on his book on The UDF: A History of the United Democratic Front in South Africa, 1983-1991 (published in 2000).
After long legal delays, the Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of Police Inefficiency in Khayelitsha (etc) has finally begun its hearings. The Commission is important because it is the first time that routine police performance has been scrutinised: This Commission is to routine policing what the Marikana Commission is to public order policing. The Commission is being covered extensively in GroundUp, the online media project in which the CSSR collaborates with the Community Media Trust. Adam Armstrong is working full-time, reporting on the Commission. See www.groundup.org.za. This afternoon, CSSR Director Jeremy Seekings presented expert evidence to the Commission on the social and economic character of Khayelitsha, and attitudes towards the police and informal justice.
Prof Jeremy Seekings presenting his expert evidence at the Commission.
The Southern African Wildlife Management Association (SAWMA) has distributed a "newsflash" about the CSSR's Karoo predator project. The article, by Heather Dugmore (who herself lives and farms in the eastern Karoo), describes the CSSR project as 'a first for South Africa and it's also one of the largest camera trap surveys ever undertaken in the world' - with 180 wildlife cameras ('camera traps') over 80,000 ha of sheep farms (and subsequently in Anysberg Nature Reserve). The research suggests that sheep farming in the Karoo supports a surprising diversity of wildlife.
Rebecca Hodes has returned to the CSSR, where she will be taking up her second postdoctoral fellowship with us. Rebecca is the principal investigator on a project about HIV-positive adolescents, their adherence to antiretroviral treatment, and their uptake of sexual and reproductive health services in South Africa’s public sector.
Rebecca’s monograph, Broadcasting the Pandemic: HIV on South African television, is forthcoming with HSRC Press this year. The book is adapted from her D.Phil thesis, completed at Oxford University in 2009, and was developed as a manuscript during her first postdoctoral fellowship at the CSSR and over the course of a postdoctoral fellowship at the Institute for Humanities in Africa (Huma), also at UCT.
Rebecca Hodes, third from the left, and other CIPHER grantees, at the International AIDS Conference in Kuala Lumpur, July 2013.
The 2014 CSSR/Afrobarometer Summer School kicked off on Monday 13th January. About thirty students from across Africa registered for either the introductory social statistics course (taught by Rajen Govender) or the advanced course (taught by Pedro Wolf), as well as a selection of thematic modules. This year the modules on offer cover democratisation (Bob Mattes), public policy in Africa (Jeremy Seekings), poverty measurement (Boniface Dulani), citizenship in Africa (Mike Bratton) and governance and accountabiity (Gyimah-Boadi). The Summer School runs for four weeks, concluding on 7 February.
A new article by Simon Collins and Nathan Geffen examines the evidence on when people with HIV should start treatment. The recent momentum to initiate treatment at a CD4 cell count above 350 cells/mm3 is driven by the potential population benefits of antiretroviral treatment reducing infectiousness together with operational concerns. These are important. However, the clinical benefits and risks for the person taking treatment should also be taken into account. These may vary depending on the background health setting. The authors conclude that the decision of when to start must be taken by the HIV-positive person in consultation with their health worker based on accurate information. That choice will vary depending on a person’s individual health, their reason to want to treat and the resources of the health-care facility. See under "Publications" for further information. Simon Collins works at HIV i-Base in London (UK).
Informed by critical pedagogies, how does an instructor of doctoral students in Africa effectively design an interdisciplinary course on diverse cultures of dissent and resistance? What could be the rationale and content of such a course within a public university? Based on reflexive immersion within a three-months’ fulltime residential fellowship devoted to developing a teaching course and analysing ethnographic data, I critically examine the processes and challenges of developing a well-theorised and grounded interdisciplinary course. I discuss themes and materials for a course entitled “Protest, Rebellion and Dissent in Revolutionary Social Movements”. I also analyse in detail the specific application of one thematic focus on women’s resistance through participation in Uganda’s recent elections. In addition to highlighting potential impacts of such a course upon both instructor and students, and highlighting key findings of the ethnographic research, the paper contributes towards discussions of Africanising critical pedagogies through decolonising doctoral curricula.
In August, CSSR director Jeremy Seekings presented the IJURR plenary lecture on "Urban Theory: The Dream and its Limits" at the annual conference of RC21 of the International Sociology Association in Berlin. RC21 is the Research Committee for Urban and Regional Studies, and the IJURR lecture is sponsored by the International Journal of Urban and Regional Studies. In his lecture, Jeremy Seekings argued that the scholarship on cities across the global South is not only subversive of urban theory derived from the experiences of cities in the global North, but is also fundamentally subversive of the possibility of universal urban theory. The lecture can be viewed here.
There has been a turn to narrative in social science as a way of understanding how citizens understand and relate to the social world. As human beings our lives are “storied” and this is a rich area of analysis for social scientists. Narratives can take many forms be it the written word, spoken or even in the case of visual narratives. The written narrative is what is of interest in this particular paper. In a pilot study that is part of a wider PhD project; young people in secondary schools in Kenya were asked to write a letter to the President of the Nation. This paper will report on the findings from these letters through a narrative analysis lens influenced greatly by the work of Corrine Squire, Catherine Riesman and Molly Andrews. This is in an effort to highlight how young people are reproducing and contesting popular political attitudes and how their interpretations give us an insight into their understanding of the past and hopes for the future.
This presentation is an attempt to think through intergroup interaction and social change in the Hex Valley – the grape farming region that was the centre of the Western Cape farm workers’ strike – using the work of Drury and Reicher (2000). They argue that social identity is a model of one’s location in a set of social relations as well as the actions that are proper and possible given that location. However, rather than assuming that people in crowd events only act in ways that are determined by their social identity, Drury and Reicher ask how one’s model of social relations can become modified by acting in terms of that model. This is possible because crowd events are unfolding, dynamic intergroup interactions in which one group’s actions are interpreted by the other in sometimes unanticipated ways and form the context for its response. The relationship between identity, intention and consequence is therefore not a straightforward one. Of crucial importance in the development of the intergroup relationship, then, are groups’ constructions of one another’s actions, as these render certain responses legitimate and justifiable (Stott, Drury & Reicher, 2013). This presentation is an attempt to apply these ideas to events in the Hex Valley. In this view, the strike was but one moment in a longer history of developing intergroup interactions. Beginning rather arbitrarily with the strike itself, striking workers levelled a challenge at farmers which farmers were able to evade because of their construction of themselves as blameless, the strike as politically motivated and its instigators as evil-intentioned. This non-engagement led to greater frustration on the part of workers, leading to further violence and eventually to the government’s intervention with the R105 minimum wage. In response, farmers have retrenched more workers and reduced hours – which further angers workers who interpret this as a racist ‘punishment’ of strikers rather than as economic necessity. Thus, it is only possible to understand the development of events and changes in the social fabric by understanding groups’ (often incompatible) interpretations of one other’s actions. This analysis implies that history is contingent rather than predestined and that while history in this area is heading in a particular direction, something is needed to break the cycle of morally justified protests leading to further misery and poverty.
Since the 1980s photographs have played an important role in shaping public perceptions of HIV/AIDS. News reporting on HIV/AIDS has tended to rely on stereotypes which have limited understanding of the epidemic and how it affects different parts of the world. These stereotypes have also tended to reinforce existing prejudices against specific groups of people and regions. In particular, the photographic representation of HIV/AIDS in Africa has largely reproduced familiar images of Africans as ‘victims’. South African photographer Santu Mofokeng provides a radical and alternative way of seeing, and thinking about, the epidemic. This paper considers how Mofokeng’s work provides an opportunity to reflect on the spiritual and social challenges raised by the HIV epidemic in South Africa. Mofokeng’s work strongly resists and challenges stereotypes associated with HIV/AIDS in Africa and offers a powerful alternative way of visually and intellectually engaging with the epidemic.