20 Years into Democracy: South Africa and the Social Sciences

15 & 16 April 2014

Wiser Seminar Room, Wits University, Johannesburg


For the twentieth anniversary of democracy in South Africa, the French Institute of South Africa and the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research (Wiser), are pleased to invite you to a conference to be held at Wits University on the 15th and 16th of April 2014, as part of the exhibition entitled The Rise and Fall of Apartheid at the Museum Africa.


This conference aims at questioning the transformations of the Social Sciences and the Humanities since 1994. Apart from making an assessment of the country’s political, economic and social transformations, this interdisciplinary encounter will initiate a reflective and critical exercise vis-à-vis the post-apartheid paradigm and its ability to understand and shape a new South Africa. The conference will question the meaning, extent and limits of this epistemological rupture which has also found an echo outside the South African borders.


Tuesday 15 April

Welcome | 14:30

Introduction | 14:45 – 15:00

Roundtable 1 | 15:00 – 16:30
Public Culture, Archives and Heritage

Roundtable 2 | 16:45 – 18:15
The Long Term Perspective after Apartheid: Archaeology and Pre-Colonial History


Wednesday 16 April 

Roundtable 3 | 09:00 – 10:30
History of Apartheid and Apartheid of History

Roundtable 4 | 10:45 – 12:15
Questions of Scale: Local and Transnational Approaches

Roundtable 5 | 13:30 – 14:30
The Reconfigurations of Anthropology

Roundtable 6 | 14:45 – 16:15
Political Economy after 1994

Concluding Remarks | 16:15 – 17:30



Claire Bénit-Gbaffou, Keith Breckenridge, Ivor Chipkin, Adrien Delmas, Amanda Esterhuysen, Bill Freund, Carolyn Hamilton, Judith Hayem, Shamil Jeppie, Cynthia Kros, Loren Landau, Premesh Lalu, Achille Mbembe, Dilip Menon, Seeraj Mohamed, Noor Nieftagodien, Sarah Nuttall, Nicolas Pons-Vignon, Aurelia Segatti, Tanika Sarkar, Robert Thornton