Southern Africa Seminar Events Archive

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Winnie Madikizela-Mandela: A Controversial Life

Friday 16 November 2018
10am - 5.30pm
Birkbeck Cinema

This event to mark the death of Madikizela-Mandela and the centenary of the birth of Nelson Mandela will consist of screenings and a roundtable of commentators, academics and filmmakers.
Speakers: Pascale Lamche (writer and director of Winnie), Dr Elizabeth Williams (Goldsmiths, University of London), Nicholas Claxton (Director, BBC Inside Story), Martin Plaut (Institute of Commonwealth Studies/BBC World Service), Dr Jacqueline Maingard (University of Bristol), Palesa Morudu (wiriter and publisher), Professor Colin Bundy (Oxford University), Dr Emily Bridger (Exeter University).

Screening: Winnie (Lamche, 2017), Winnie Mandela and the Missing Witness (Claxton, 2010)

To register for the event.

Intimate Identities - Microhistories, Sexual Identities, and the Emotions of AIDS Research

Speaker: Dr Carla Tsampiras (University of Cape Town)
Date: 29 October 2018

Time: 1 – 2 pm
Venue: Room 101, 30 Russell Square,
Birkbeck College, University of London

Carla Tsampiras is a Senior Lecturer in the Primary Health Care Directorate at UCT. Her work is concerned with understanding how constructions of ‘race’, gender, sexuality, and class influence understandings of, and responses to, health concerns. Her other areas of interest include gender, violence and slavery in South Africa, the global crises, and Health and Medical Humanities.

Missing Voices: The Battle of Cuito Cuanavale

Date : 15 Mar 2018, 2.00 to 15 Mar 2018, 6.00
Type: Colloquium
Venue: Gordon Room, G34, Ground Floor, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU
Event description: A commemorative event, to celebrate the 30th anniversary of 'the battle of Cuito Cuanavale'.

The momentous events in Southern Angola in 1988 represented a turning point in the history of the Namibian independence struggle and South Africa's own lengthy transition from apartheid. This event will also highlight that the current 'decolonising the academy debate' has important historical antecedents. These are the discussions around the New International Information Order of the 1970s/1980s, and the need to emphasise African voices in the news narrative. In particular, the event will address the 'lost voice' of the MPLA/FAPLA in Angola, set against the current popular narrative around Cuito  Cuanavale in South Africa.

Contingent Citizens: Professional Aspiration in a South African Hospital

Date: 06 Dec 2017, 6.00 to 06 Dec 2017, 8.00
Gordon Room, G34, Ground Floor, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU

Contingent Citizens examines the ambiguous position of South Africa’s public sector
workers, and the implications for contemporary understandings of citizenship. Focusing
a lens on the professional ethic of nurses in a rural hospital, it shows how experiences are
shaped by a deep history of mission medicine as well as new forms of public management
and patients’ new rights in the democratic era. It highlights t

Coetzee & the Archive Conference

Senate House and 5-6 October 2017

Marc Farrant (Goldsmiths) & Kai Easton (SOAS)

Confirmed Events

J.M. Coetzee -  a reading

Kathryn Mosley - guest pianist

Richard Mosse - screening

‘… I have been through the letters and diaries. What Coetzee writes there cannot be trusted, not as a factual record – not because he was a liar but because he was a fictioneer’ (Summertime 225).

What does it mean to be a fictioneer? And what precisely is the relationship between the truth of J. M. Coetzee’s works, especially with regard to the life-story of the fictionalised memoirs, and the factual record that lies behind them? How might such a self-reflexive body of work impact upon our reading of archival materials – manuscripts, drafts, letters and diaries? The recent consolidation in 2012 of the Coetzee Collection at the world famous Harry Ransom Center (HRC), University of Texas - Austin, offers an exciting opportunity for scholars to address anew such fascinating, enthralling, and intractable questions. This inaugural conference on Coetzee’s archive invites speakers to engage with both the general topic of the archive in Coetzee Studies and with the specific and voluminous materials that have travelled to the HRC to date.

Coetzee abstracts.

Researching Southern Africa: A Postgraduate Workshop, Institute of Commonwealth Studies, 16 June 2017

The Southern Africa Seminar Series invites submissions for a postgraduate workshop on Researching Southern Africa. This one-day event will bring together doctoral students and scholars working in a range of disciplines and thematic interests relating to the region of Southern Africa. The workshop provides an opportunity for doctoral researchers to present their research in an informal and inclusive atmosphere and to gain feedback from scholars based across the London colleges who share expertise in Southern Africa.

Programme SA Seminar 2017


Mandela Round Table: Nelson Mandela and the Legacies of Liberation

24 April 2017, 2pm - 5pm
Room T102, School of Oriental and African Studies, 21-22 Russell Square
Speakers: Thula Simpson (University of Pretoria); Elizabeth Williams (Goldsmiths); Timothy Gibbs (UCL); Robert Skinner (University of Bristol)
Discussant: Martin Plaut (Institute of Commonwealth Studies)

Decoding the Pimpernel: locating the evasive Mandela in international context (Rob Skinner, University of Bristol)

Nelson Mandela and the Genesis of the ANC's Armed Struggle: Notes on Method (Thula Simpson, University of Pretoria)

Mandela & Matanzima attorneys-at-law: lawyers, the legal field and liberation (Tim Gibbs, University College London)

"Pulling the branch of a tree"  "troublemaker" the legacies of "inconvenient truths" - Nelson Mandela, Bernie Grant & Raising the Black Voice in Britain (Elizabeth Williams, Goldsmiths, University of London) 

Mandela Round Table abstacts

Conversations in Bloomsbury: Henrietta Rose-Innes

Friday 10th March, 4.30-6pm
Room 116, SOAS Main Building, London WC1H 0XG

Henrietta Rose-Innes in conversation with Brian Chikwava, talking about her new novel Nineveh.
Rose-Innes and Chikwava are both Caine Prize winners, both from southern Africa.

Book Launch for The Fires Beneath: The Life of Monica Wilson, South African Anthropologist with Sean Morrow (University of Fort Hare) 22nd February 2017 SOAS

As a young anthropologist in the 1930s, Monica immersed herself in the lives, work and beliefs of African communities in southern and East Africa, while carefully observing the effects of historical change. At the core of her existence was her intellectual collaboration and intense personal relationship with her husband, the brilliant but clinically depressive Godfrey Wilson, who took his own life in 1944.

After Godfrey’s death, Monica raised their two children and built a career as a leading academic, at Fort Hare, Rhodes University College and the University of Cape Town. In a political environment where black academics were under constant threat and ideas were censored, she outspokenly advocated racial equality and freedom of speech, her publications emphasising a common South African identity and implicitly challenging apartheid ‘separate development’.

This fascinating biography moves between the Eastern Cape, Cambridge, Tanganyika, Nyasaland, Northern Rhodesia and Cape Town. It explores the relationship between anthropology and history, and the tensions between liberalism, Christianity, Marxism and apartheid ideology. Drawing on the letters and diaries left by Monica and Godfrey Wilson, this is a powerful story about politics, race, war, faith, love and loss.

Sol Plaatje's Native Life A Hundred Years On: Book Launch and Roundtable, Friday 25 November 2016 Senate House

With: Sabata-mpho Mokae (novelist and poet / Sol Plaatje University), Janet Remmington (York University), Brian Willan (Rhodes University), Elizabeth Williams (Goldsmiths), Heather Hughes (Lincoln University), William Beinart (Oxford University)
Discussant: Andrew van der Vlies (Queen Mary)

An event to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the publication of Sol Plaatje's Native Life in South Africa and to celebrate the publication of Sol Plaatje’s Native Life in South Africa. Past and Present (Wits University Press), edited by Bhekizizwe Peterson, Brian Willan, and Janet Remmington

Originally published in war-time London in 1916, Sol Plaatje’s Native Life in South Africa was written by one of South Africa’s most talented early 20th century black leaders and journalists. Native Life vividly narrates Plaatje’s investigative journeying into South Africa’s rural heartlands to report on the effects of the discriminatory 1913 Natives Land Act and his involvement in the deputation to the British imperial government. At the same time it tells the bigger story of the assault on black rights and opportunities in the newly consolidated Union of South Africa, and about South Africa’s place in the wider world. The aim of the new, multi-authored volume is to shed light on how and why Native Life came into being at a critical historical juncture, and to reflect on how it can be read in relation to South Africa’s heightened challenges today.

[Download event poster Sol Plaatje event poster]

Researching Southern Africa: A Postgraduate Workshop Monday 22 June 2015 Institute of Commonwealth Studies

The Southern Africa Seminar Series of the University of London hosted a one-day workshop to bring together doctoral students and scholars working in a range of disciplines and thematic interests relating to the region of Southern Africa. The workshop enabled doctoral researchers to present their work in an informal and inclusive atmosphere and to gain valuable feedback from scholars based across the London Colleges who specialise in Southern Africa. It also gave students the opportunity to reflect on, and discuss, ethical and epistemological issues that were raised in the course of their fieldwork. Featuring a talk on publishing in academic journals by Diana Jeater, Editor of the Journal of Southern African Studies, the workshop helped to strengthen networks within London and to identify opportunities for future collaboration.

Convenors: Kai Easton, Lizzie Hull, Diana Jeater, Hilary Sapire 

Researching Southern Africa: A Postgraduate Workshop, Institute of Commonwealth Studies Monday 2 June 2014

The Southern Africa Seminar Series of the University of London hosted a one-day workshop to bring together doctoral students and scholars working in a range of disciplines and thematic interests relating to the region of Southern Africa.

Full Programme available 

Download abstracts

Pageantry, Politics and Performances of Power   28 March 2014, Institute of Commonwealth Studies

Rachel Johnson (University of Manchester)
Repertoires of Remembrance: The Public Commemoration of June 16 1976 and South African Politics

Geoff Levett (Birkbeck)
Sport as Diplomacy: The 1907 South African Tour of England

Hilary Sapire (Birkbeck)
Pageantry, Performance and Politics: Royal Tours to Southern Africa in the Twentieth Century

Discussants: Philip Murphy (ICS) and Neil Parsons (London)

[download event poster  poster_Pageantry%20politics_mar2014‌]

African Ideas and Local Knowledge  29 November 2013, Queen Mary

See abstracts

Patrick Harries (University of Basel)
'Knowledge and knowing: Tracing som‌e Local, African Practices'

William Beinart (University of Oxford)
'"Disease will come with the Season": Environmental and Nutritional Ideas about Livestock Disease and Healing in South Africa'

Karen Brown (University of Oxford)
'Disease Lies in the Spoor of Women: Supernatural Explanations of Livestock Diseases in Contemporary South Africa'

Isak Niehaus (Brunel University)
'Dreaming Dreams or Seeing Ghosts: On the Mystical Efficacy of Antiretroviral Drugs in the South African Lowveld'

[download event poster  poster_local%20knowledge_29nov2013]

Environmental Politics and Change in Southern Africa  19 June 2013, King's College 

See abstracts

Carl Death, Department of International Politics, Aberystwyth University
"Now I feel the heat as much as white people do..." Social movements, climate change and environmental politics in South Africa 

Edward Teversham, St Cross College, University of Oxford
“A relatively luxurious and sophisticated type of recreation”: constructing a wilderness experience for Africans at Manyeleti Game Reserve, 1962-85

Sian Sullivan, Department of Geography, Environment and Development Studies, Birkbeck College
Preliminary thoughts on the valorisation of "green uranium" in Africa 

Frances Cleaver, Environment, Politics and Development Group, King’s College London
Institutions, bricolage and “going with the grain”: everyday water governance  in rural Zimbabwe

Discussant:  William Beinart, African Studies Centre, University of Oxford

Beyond the "post": Theorising South Africa now   27 April 2012, Birkbeck 

Beyond Poster

In her 2004 Journal of Southern African Studies article, Sarah Nuttall invited us to 'theorise the now' in South Africa, starting from the experiences and cultural politics of city life. This panel took three further starting points for thinking South Africa in its present condition, rather than being attached to the formulation of the transition, or the condition of "post" - apartheid. Jeremy Seekings discussed the value of critiques of neo-liberalism in explaining the coexistence of poverty and social democracy in South Africa; Tim Gibbs considered the character and increasing reach of the state in rural areas through a focus on ANC notables; Owen Crankshaw placed an analysis of Johannesburg's labour markets in a comparative international perspective through a critical engagement with global city hypotheses and Jenny Robinson drew on the example of city-wide strategic policy in Johannesburg to consider the ways in which South African cities now need to be understood in relation to both wider debates in urban studies as well as their extensive empirical engagements with policy ideas from elsewhere. Jonny Steinberg provided a reflective overview of the issues and ideas that arose from the papers.

Professor Jeremy Seekings (University of Cape Town and Yale University) 
'Neoliberalism, social democracy and the persistence of poverty in post-apartheid South Africa'
Dr Timothy Gibbs (University of Cambridge) 
'Rural South Africa after the collapse of the labour migration system'
Professor Jenny Robinson (University College London)
'Johannesburg in a World of Cities: traces of elsewhere in the making of urban policies'

Professor Owen Crankshaw (University of Cape Town) 
'Theorising Racial Inequality in Post-Apartheid South Africa' 

Discussant:  Dr Jonny Steinberg (Oxford) 

Violence, memory and commemoration: Perspectives from southern, east and central Africa  9 December 2011, Birkbeck

See blog post by Sarah Duff on this event

Tom Lodge (University of Limerick)
Sharpeville and Memory

Rachel Ibreck (University of Limerick)
The Time of Mourning: The Politics of Commemorating the Tutsi Genocide in Rwanda

Annie Coombes (Birkbeck College) 
Learning from the Lari Massacre(s): Object Lessons from Contemporary Kenya

Discussant:  JoAnn McGregor (UCL)

South Africa on Film  10 June 2011, Birkbeck

Brian Willan
'Cinematographic calamity' or 'soul-stirring appeal to every Briton': Reactions to Birth of a Nation in England and South Africa, 1915-1931

Emma Sandon (Birkbeck College)
The African Mirror Newsreel and African Film Productions Documentaries: Non-fiction film production in South Africa, 1910-1950

Jacqueline Maingard (University of Bristol)
'Assignment Africa': Colonial imaginaries and Donald Swanson's African Jim (1949) and The Magic Garden (1951) in South African film history

Neil Parsons
Early southern African movies and the lingering ambiguities of South African Union, 1910-1923

Law, Policing and Human Rights in South Africa  25 March 2011, Birkbeck

Keith Shear (University of Birmingham)
Tested loyalties: Police, politics and the Second World War in South Africa

Saul Dubow (University of Sussex)
Human rights and citizenship in South Africa: A long and fractured tradition

Pippa Lane (Centre for Social and Economic Inclusion)
'Heroes as ordinary people': A social and cultural history of political imprisonment in South Africa, 1960-1992

Paul Trewhela
Democracy, race, security and corruption: Issues in the ANC and the South African Communist Party in exile 

South Africa and the Black British Anti-apartheid Solidarity with the Southern African Liberation Struggle, 1970-1990  5 November 2010, Goldsmiths

Introductory speaker:  Professor Shula Marks OBE, FBA (Historian)

Panel 1:  The Anti-Apartheid Movement and Black Communities
Chair: Professor Harry Goulbourne (South Bank University)
Chitra Karve (ACTSA Chair, solicitor, human rights activist)
Suresh Kamath (ACTSA Treasurer)
Glenroy Watson (Trade unionist)
Dr Elizabeth Williams (Historian, librarian, Goldsmiths)

Panel 2: Black Solidarity with the Anti-Apartheid Struggle
Chair: Dr Hakim Adi (University of Middlesex)
Alex Pascall OBE (Writer and broadcaster, oral historian)
Onyekachi Wambu (Author and journalist)
Bini Brown (Community activist)
Kimathi Donkor (Artist and activist)

Guest convenor: Dr Elizabeth Williams (Goldsmiths)

Imagining the City  30 April 2010, Birkbeck

See abstracts

Professor Vivian Bickford Smith (University of Cape Town and Institute of Historical Research)
South African cities in film: Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban from the 1890s to the 1960s

Oliver Murphy (Oxford)
‘I have seen the illness. We have found the medicine’. From local struggles to national ‘imagination’ (and back again): Langa and Nyanga, 1959 – 63

Madalina Florescu (SOAS, University of London)
Listening to and imagining others’ whereabouts at the Catholic Mission in Luanda: An ethnographer’s perspective

Lizzy Attree
AIDS and the city – Shared spaces of infection

Discussant: Professor Jennifer Robinson (University College London)


Cities in Southern Africa: Migrants and Urban Agents  26 February 2010, Birkbeck

See abstracts and poster_migrants%20and%20urban%20agents

Busani Mpofu (University of Edinburgh)
The Urban Poor and the ‘Rebuilding’ Programme in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, 2005-7

Rebekah Lee
(Goldsmiths College, University of London)
Death ‘On the Move’: Funerals, Entrepreneurs and the Rural-Urban Nexus in South Africa

Professor Paul Jenkins (Herriot-Watt University and Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture)
Changing Attitudes to Land in the Expanding Urban Areas of Xilunguine/Lourenco Marcques/Maputo
Debbie Potts (King’s College, University of London)
Making a Livelihood In (and Beyond) the African City

Discussant:  Professor Terence Ranger (University of Oxford)

Identities and Imaginaries in South Africa  4 December 2009, SOAS

See abstracts and rebekah_history_poster2

Ian McQueen (University of Sussex)
Black Consciousness in Dialogue: Steve Biko, Richard Turner and the Durban Moment in South Africa, 1970 - 1974

Rachel Bright
 (University of East Anglia)
Who is a ‘real’ South African? The Cape Election and Chinese Indentured Labour, 1903 -4

Joel Cabrita
Everyday Literacy: How Handwriting and Printing Presses Make Power in the South African Nazareth Church

Sarah Duff
 (Birkbeck College)
‘Saving the Children to Save the Nation’: Poverty, Whiteness and Childhood in the Cape Colony, c. 1890 – 1899

Discussant: Professor Vivian Bickford-Smith
 (University of Cape Town and Institute of Historical Research)