CSSR seminar series restarts this Thursday with a seminar by Beatrice Conradie

Dr Beatrice Conradie

Dr Beatrice Conradie, director of the Sustainable Societies Unit, will present the first seminar of the CSSR's seminar series for the second semester. Her seminar is titled "Is lethal control of predators an effective strategy against livestock losses?: Ceres hunting club, 1979 to 1987". The seminar's abstract is given below:

Farmers the world over get emotional about predators. In South Africa an absolute war erupted around Cape Nature’s recent restriction of the lethal control options available to farmers. Farmers’ position is that they cannot afford to stop hunting predators, while Cape Nature has indicated that indiscriminate killing must be stopped for predator populations to have any chance of stabilising. In the face of these widely diverging opinions we have surprisingly little hard evidence of the effect of predator hunting on subsequent livestock losses in South Africa. This paper uses a 152-farm nine-year panel of predator hunting and livestock loss data to explore whether lethal control is effective in reducing farm-level livestock losses. Results show a positive relationship between lethal control and subsequent livestock losses which provides some support for the Cape Nature position.

Seminars start promptly at 12:45 on Thursdays in the CSSR Seminar Room (4.29, Leslie Social Science Building). Lunch will be served. 

Children's Institute seminars

The UCT Children's Institute hold monthly seminars in the CSSR. On Monday 6th August, Sonja Giese from the Children's Institute will be presenting research on government funding for early childhoold development in South Africa. Seminars are at 12:45 for 1 pm. Please RSVP with Bee Williams via e-mail bee.williams@uct.ac.za for catering purposes, or for further information about CI seminars.

Spending on HIV and AIDS

CSSR researchers have conducted considerable cross-national research on spending on HIV and AIDS, including Matthew MacDevette's CSSR Working Papers numbers 294 and 297 (both 2011) and Nicoli Nattrass's letter (written with Greg Gonsalves) in Science (in 2010). Sarah Harper's new study of "The Fungibility of Aid Earmarked for HIV/AIDS Control Programs", published online in World Development, shows that donor funding on HIV and AIDS is generally not fungible, i.e. increased donor funding for HIV-AIDS programmes has generally not led to domestic governments in Africa and elsewhere switching their own funds to other programmes.

GroundUp community journalism initiative gaining ground

The GroundUp initiative, a community journalism project in which the CSSR is a founding partner, is starting to get noticed. Its focus is on stories from South African townships, especially stories related to social justice and that are underreported in the mainstream media. It has already published a range of important stories on health, immigrants' rights (including a scoop exposing corruption at the Maitland Refugee Reception Centre) and public transport. GroundUp logoIts recent Focus on Transport series chronicles the experiences of commuters in Cape Town and details weaknesses in Cape Town's public transport system, but also celebrates the fledgling MyCiTi service and includes an editorial on getting Cape Town's transport right. The CSSR supports GroundUp by assisting with training and mentorship of community journalists by CSSR graduate students.

Rebecca Davis writes about Groundup in The Daily Maverick:

The programme began in February, when 24 candidates took part in an intensive two-week training course. Of that group, the five most promising individuals were selected to make up the GroundUp team. They receive ongoing on-the-job training and support from UCT students from the Centre for Social Science Research, who also help out as subeditors. In April, GroundUp began to publish stories on their website.

“Our primary focus is news relating to social justice in the townships,” says Geffen. He points out that, though South Africa’s tabloids and community newspapers carry a great deal of township-based stories, they often lack focus on issues like health, gender and government performance.

Read GroundUp's stories at groundup.org.za.

Fritz Schoon to spend a semester at Brown University

PhD student Fritz Schoon - whose PhD (in Sociology) is on the developmental state - has been invited to spend the Spring 2013 semester at Brown University in Providence in the USA. Fritz will participate in Brown's Graduate Program in Development (see http://gpd.watsoninstitute.org/), taking a course on Theory and Research in Development and any other courses he chooses to take. Brown covers his travel and living expenses. Fritz is following in the footsteps of PhD student Duncan Pieterse, who spent a semester at Brown in 2011. The CSSR has an institutional partnership with Brown's Graduate Program in Development, and we are happy to host Brown students at UCT.

Course for South African Parliament

The CSSR is running a 3-day course on "Doing Research for researchers" at the South African Parliament. The course, from 25-27 June, has been designed to help parliamentary researchers to reflect critically on the design, practice and presentation of research. We live in a world where information is abundant: the challenge facing researchers is often not so much “how do we collect new information?” as “how do we make good use of the information that is already available?” We have to avoid being overwhelmed by the volume of information, distinguish between reliable and unreliable information, and present our findings effectively and honestly. The course examines how we collect the information that we need, how we make sure that we have good information, how we can use quantitative data sensibly and critically, how we organize our analyses, and how we communicate our analysis to our audiences.

Video: Nicoli Nattrass in conversation with Nathan Geffen about her new book "The AIDS Conspiracy: Science Fights Back"

The video below is of Prof Nicoli Nattrass in conversation with Nathan Geffen at the launch of her book "The AIDS Conspiracy: Science Fights Back". It was recorded on Wednesday 30 May 2012 at The Book Lounge in Cape Town.

Download Video: MP4 / webm

Carlos wins prestigious award

PhD student Carlos Shenga has won the 2012 UPEACE-IDRC Doctoral Research Award! The Award covers generous tuition and research expenses.

The doctoral research award is part of a joint undertaking by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and the UN University for Peace (UPEACE) to develop an evidence-based, strong research capacity in Africa on critical issues of governance and security. 

Congratulations to Carlos!

 

Book launch: The AIDS Conspiracy

The South African edition of The AIDS Conspiracy: Science fights back, ASRU director Prof Nicoli Nattrass's latest book, will be launched on 30 May 2012 at The Book Lounge in Cape Town. The author will be in conversation with Nathan Geffen, ASRU fellow and treasurer of the Treatment Action Campaign.

Invitation to book launch

Learn about DataFirst's datasets and services to social science researchers

Prof Jeremy Seekings, director of the CSSR, will be speaking at DataFirst's "roadshow" for social scientists next Friday about opportunities for social scientists at UCT to analyse the CSSR's Cape Area Panel Study dataset. DataFirst will also demonstrate their online data portal and explain how to access support on data and analysis for your research. All CSSR researchers and students are encouraged to attend. The event is open to all.

Date: 
11 May 2012
Time:  
12:00 - 13:00
Venue: 
LS2B, Leslie Social Science Building, Upper Campus
Speakers: 
Prof Martin Wittenberg (Director: DataFirst)
Prof Jeremy Seekings (Director: CSSR)
Eduard Grebe (DataFirst Upper Campus support officer)

Eduard Grebe presents research at two events in Switzerland

ASRU PhD student Eduard Grebe last week presented research results and reflections on the state of global AIDS advocacy at two events in Switzerland. On 17 April he presented a paper titled "The challenge of transnational prevention and treatment advocacy in an era of resource constraints and shifting global priorities: Reflections from South Africa" at the 2012 aidsfocus.ch conference in Berne under the theme "HIV, AIDS and Advocacy. Bringing about change in policies and practice". His comments focused on the challenges faced by the treatment access movement in the face of a backlash against AIDS-specific funding, a severely constrained financial environment (with industrialised countries reducing their contributions to global AIDS efforts), turmoil at the Global Fund and a shift in attention to other challenges like climate change. 

On 19 April he presented a paper titled "The Treatment Action Campaign's struggle for AIDS treatment in South Africa" to the Etnologisches Seminar Basel at the University of Basel, in which he drew on his PhD research and joint work with Nicoli Nattrass to demonstrate the movement's effectiveness at the political and community levels, as well as its "political repertoire" and style of organisation.

ALP dissemination in Namibia

Prof Robert Mattes gave a presentation to a well attended Symposium for Civil Society on Recent Research on African Legislatures: Namibia in Comparative Perspective hosted by the Namibia Institute for Democracy (NID) in Windhoek on 30 March 2012. The ALP presentation was on Institutionalising Democracy in Africa? Assessing the State of Legislatures. Presentations made by Namibian NGOs included: Democracy Report – analysing, monitoring and supporting the work of Namibia’s parliament, by Graham Hopwood from the Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR) and The Influence of Non-Governmental Organisations on the Parliamentary Law-Making process in Namibia, by Theunis Keulder of Namibia Institute for Democracy.

New book from Nicoli Nattrass - The AIDS Conspiracy: Science Fight Back

ASRU director Prof Nicoli Nattrass has written a new book, The AIDS Conspiracy: Science Fights Back, in which she explores conspiracy theories on the origins of AIDS (such as that it was manufactured by the US government), their surprising longevity, the campaign by scientists to combat spurious conspiracy theories and the consequences of these myths for behaviour. The book is published in the United States by Columbia University Press and will be released in South Africa in April by Wits University Press. An ebook is available in the Amazon Kindle store.

The AIDS Conspiracy book coverShe reflects on some of the arguments in the book in a piece for The Scientist, which has also published a short extract of the book on its website. She writes:

There is a substantial body of evidence showing that HIV causes AIDS—and that antiretroviral treatment (ART) has turned the viral infection from a death sentence into a chronic disease.1 Yet a small group of AIDS denialists keeps alive the conspiratorial argument that ART is harmful and that HIV science has been corrupted by commercial interests. Unfortunately, AIDS denialists have had a disproportionate effect on efforts to stem the AIDS epidemic. In 2000, South African President Thabo Mbeki took these claims seriously, opting to debate the issue, thus delaying the introduction of ART into the South African public health sector. At least 330,000 South Africans died unnecessarily as a result.

The “hero scientist” of AIDS denialism, University of California, Berkeley, virologist Peter Duesberg, argues that HIV is a harmless passenger virus and that ART is toxic, even a cause of AIDS. He has done no clinical research on HIV and ignores the many rebuttals of his claims in the scientific literature.4,5 As I describe in my new book, The AIDS Conspiracy: Science Fights Back, this has prompted further direct action against Duesberg by the pro-science community.

Prof Mattes speaks on "multiple understandings of democracy" in India

Prof Robert Mattes, Director of the Democracy in Africa Research Unit, recently participated in a panel discussion on "Multiple Meanings of Democracy: Citizen Voices from Across the World" in Bangalore, India. The symposium was organised by the Centre for Research in Social Science Education of Jain University, Centre for Public Policy, IIM-B, Institute of Contemporary Studies, Bangalore.

More details can be found in The Hindu newspaper's coverage of the event.

Seminar Programme: First Semester 2012

The programme of CSSR seminars for the first semster has been released. You can read it below or download the programme in PDF format.

All seminars start promptly at 13:00. Lunch is usually available from 12:40.
Venue: CSSR Seminar Room, R4.29, Leslie Social Science Building, Upper Campus

23 February
Duncan Pieterse (Economics/CSSR)
Exposure to violence and educational outcomes in Cape Town

1 March
Zöe Gauld (Sociology/CSSR)
Multi-dimensional approaches to affirmative action in university admissions

8 March
Nicoli Nattrass (Economics/CSSR)
Socioeconomic, biological and behavioural correlates of HIV status among young Black South Africans in Cape Town, South Africa

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