CSSR Karoo project

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.

New research project on HIV-positive adolescents

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.

2014 CSSR/Afrobarometer Summer School

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.

When should people with HIV commence treatment?

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).

Teaching Resistance, Emancipation and Liberation: Thinking through Women’s Participation in Uganda’s 2011 Elections

5 November, 2013 - 13:00 to 14:00
Stella Nyanzi
CSSR Seminar Room 4.29 Level 4 Leslie Social Science Building Upper Campus
Abstract / Description: 


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.

CSSR director gives IJURR lecture in Berlin

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.

Understanding young people’s political attitudes through narrative: An analysis of student’s letters to the President

29 October, 2013 - 13:00 to 14:00
Fiona Wairimu Ngarachu PhD candidate University of Southampton
CSSR Seminar Room 4.29,Level 4 Leslie Social Science Building,Upper Campus
Abstract / Description: 


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.


Reading the Western Cape farm workers’ strike as part of a series of developing intergroup interactions

22 October, 2013 - 13:00 to 14:00
Philippa Kerr, PhD candidate in Psychology, UKZN
CSSR Seminar Room 4.29 Level 4,Leslie Social Science Building,Upper Campus
Abstract / Description: 


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.


An alternative way of seeing: Challenging photographic stereotypes of HIV/AIDS in South Africa

15 October, 2013 - 13:00 to 14:00
Annabelle Wienand
CSSR Seminar Room 4.29,Level 4 Leslie Social Science Building,Upper Campus
Abstract / Description: 


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.

Shack-dwellers to homeowners: Effects of subsidized low-income housing in Cape Town, South Africa

1 October, 2013 - 13:00 to 14:00
Singumbe Muyeba, Research Associate, Centre for Social Science Research
CSSR Seminar Room 4.29,Level 4 Leslie Social Science Building,Upper Campus
Abstract / Description: 

The provision of real property rights through titling and informal settlements upgrading is thought to have effects that improve slum conditions and reduce poverty. Given the increase in slum-dwellers in developing countries, this is an increasingly important subject. Hitherto, the evidence is scarce, exaggerated, and riddled with serious methodological problems. This paper investigates the effects of subsidized low income housing in Khayelitsha, an urban township in Cape Town, South Africa. It relies on evidence from circumstances in housing allocation that mimic a natural experiment. Using Difference-in-Differences estimation and OLS regressions, I find that freehold titling improved self-reported physical health status and led to an increase in the proportion of teenage pregnancies among beneficiaries. I do not find evidence in support of the hypotheses that real property rights increase labour market participation, household per-capita income and wealth, school dropout rates, psychological health status, and neighbourhood stability and citizen behaviour. The study contributes by examining a more holistic set of effects than most of the studies in the literature which tend to examine at the most three effects in one case study. This is useful for cross-country comparisons. In addition to examining the economic effects in this context, it also makes a more specific contribution by systematically examining the effects of titling on social and political facets in developing countries, which have hitherto remained largely understudied.

Productivity of seasonal farm workers in the fruit industry

10 September, 2013 - 13:00 to 14:00
Abigail Britton
CSSR Seminar Room 4.29,Level 4 Leslie Social Science Building,Upper Campus
Abstract / Description: 

South African agriculture faces many difficulties in the post-Apartheid era, and yet, as a labour-intensive industry it is important for combating unemployment. This paper investigates the drivers of labour productivity and wage structures on fruit farms in the Western Cape, in the aftermath of a minimum wage imposition. Results show that gender, language and number of dependants are significantly correlated with labour productivity on farms. The current picking workforce is overwhelmingly of African descent and employed in casual jobs. Results show that productivity lower on a Monday and Friday than during the rest of the week, perhaps as a result of the legacy of the dop system. The labourers on the three farms are paid on a piece-rate system and it would appear that none earn below the minimum wage of R11.67 an hour, but rather that most earn up to 1.5 times the minimum wage. The discussion suggests ways in which both output per worker and the living standards of workers can be improved.

Economies of scale, predation rates and the profitability of small stock farming in Laingsburg, Central Karoo South Africa

27 August, 2013 - 13:00 to 14:00
Beatrice Conradie
CSSR Seminar Room 4.29,Level 4 Leslie Social Science Building,Upper Campus
Abstract / Description: 

This paper reports on a questionnaire survey of 64 small stock farms covering 80% of the farmers and 50% of the land in the Laingsburg district in the Central Karoo of South Africa. The survey found a lambing rate (live lambs born per ewe mated) of 80%, a sales rate (lambs sold per ewe mated) of 57% and a total confirmed stock loss rate (lambs plus ewes lost per ewe mated) of 13%. Predation accounted for between two thirds and three quarters of all livestock losses and disproportionately targeted lambs that have been tagged already but where still with their mothers. The average net revenue from mutton sales was R230 per ewe, which was marginally higher than the average of R210 reported for lifestyle farmers (gentlemen or hobby farmers). For commercial farmers, profitability increased with farm size, from R130 to R309 per breeding ewe. If predator losses could be eliminated, the profitability of the average farm’s mutton enterprise would more than double. The annual depredation impact was estimated to be R9.33 per hectare, R99 per ewe mated, R76000 per farm and R7.7 million for the Laingsburg district as a whole. All prices are in 2012 ZAR. However, despite these large costs charged to predation losses, predators were found not to be the main reason for Karoo farmers’ financial vulnerability.

Keywords:  human -wildlife,sheep profitibility,reproductive efficiency,black-backed jackals caracals,Central Karoo. 

Journey mapping: Life histories of farm workers in Laingsburg district

20 August, 2013 - 13:00 to 14:00
Inge Conradie (Co-author: Annabelle Wienand)
CSSR Seminar Room 4.29,Level 4 Leslie Social Science Building,Upper Campus
Abstract / Description: 

This was a case study of the life histories of fifteen casual workers from Laingsburg. With the livelihood difficulties associated with the casualisation of farm workers, the question was raised of why this group of workers return to a community which offers them very little by way of escaping these difficulties? This study found that in fact, not all casual agricultural workers are former permanent on-farm workers. It reveals a more complicated life trajectory than that ascribed to the average casualised farm worker in South Africa.

This group of men have been casual labourers for most of their lives and hence the shifts in agricultural employment practices, due to decades of unremitting legislative changes, have had a relatively small impact on their lives. They are not necessarily trapped in the agricultural sector or rural communities, rather there are factors, such as a distinct association of the city with danger, pushing them towards Karoo living. Simultaneously there are strong pull factors keeping them rooted in this community: their self-association with a farm worker identity, a migratory tradition and social networks as sources of employment, income security and high dependence on grants are all factors that play into the life and work trajectory this group of casual workers

Volunteer for GroundUp

### Journalism that makes a difference to people's lives [GroundUp](http://groundup.org.za) is a community news organisation. We focus on social justice stories in vulnerable communities. We want our stories to make a difference. When we uncovered corruption at the Department of Home Affairs, the department investigated it. When we reported that the streetlights in Khayelitsha were broken, the City fixed them. We don't only want to report the world; we want to change it. We are looking for local and international university students or graduates who would like to volunteer with us. This is substantial work; we won't make you do the photocopying. We expect you to be independent and willing to go out and find hard hitting important stories that will be published under your byline. To volunteer for us, please email [info@groundup.org.za](mailto:info@groundup.org.za). Here is what volunteers have said about GroundUp: >As an intern with GroundUp over the summer, I was given the freedom to explore topics that truly interested me. This is not a typical internship filled with busy work and mindless tasks. At GroundUp, I was treated as a colleague rather than a subordinate. I have built relationships and a written portfolio that I look forward to sharing with everyone back home in the States. I will be earning my Masters of Public Health, so I ended up writing feature pieces on HPV and circumcision. By writing pieces that were relevant to my academic and professional interests, I learned a great deal about the state of public health in South Africa and the inner workings of community journalism. I would definitely encourage students visiting South Africa from abroad to intern with GroundUp. >-- Edirin Okoloko, Yale

Jackal Narratives and Predator Control in the Karoo

6 August, 2013 - 13:00 to 14:00
Nicoli Nattrass & Beatrice Conradie
CSSR Seminar,R4.29, Level 4 Leslie Social Science,Upper Campus
Abstract / Description: 


This paper discusses the historical roots of, and scientific evidence for, rival ‘jackal narratives’ about the problems posed by black-backed jackals for South African sheep farmers and conservation policy more broadly. The jackal has recently decolonised many South African sheep farms as agriculture became less economically and politically important, as land use patterns changed and as government stopped subsidising predator control. The influential ‘environmental jackal narrative’ shaping conservation policy, that lethal control is undesirable and ineffective, is rooted in the science of predator ecology but the linked recommendation that farmers learn to ‘live with the jackal’ is on less solid ground. The rival ‘farmer jackal narrative’, that jackal populations need to be suppressed on agricultural lands, in fact resonates with conservation theories justifying the culling of jackals in national parks. Contestation over values is important in shaping attitudes, but these competing plausible hypotheses about jackal control suggest that further scientific studies may be helpful in the construction of policies that are acceptable to both sides.