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U-M/WiSER Collaboration

Joining Theory and Empiricism in the Remaking of the African Humanities

In March 2013, the ASC received news that The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation had agreed to fund a five-year interdisciplinary research and teaching partnership between the University of Michigan and University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa. The effort, titled “Joining Theory and Empiricism in the Remaking of the African Humanities”, will foster and strengthen innovative research in the humanities, and closely affiliated fields in the social sciences with the objective of building a transcontinental community of scholars who addresses ambitious theoretical questions that resonate with local, regional, and global experiences. Over the five-year period, we will hold two two-week courses per annum alternating between Johannesburg and Ann Arbor, on significant questions that inform scholarship in the Humanities broadly conceived.

Workshop 12
Historical and Contemporary Expressions of Populism in Africa and Beyond

November 17-20, 2019, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. 

This workshop will reflect on the cultural and political registers and infrastructures of populism in Africa (and elsewhere). What circumstances invite (some) people to see themselves as an oppressed majority? What work do authenticité and other nativist agendas do to clarify identities and marginalize minorities? What is the relationship between African forms of liberal democracy, and development in particular, and populism? Are populist movements opening up spaces for new forms of gendered political performances? Finally, what lessons can be learned from the past as African, American, and European democracies together confront a renewed wave of nativist enthusiasm?

Workshop 11
Spatial Typologies and the Built Environment: Navigating African Urban Landscapes

May 6-7, 2019. WiSER, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa.

Workshop 10
The Filmic and the Photographic: African Visual Cultures

November 25-28, 2018.  University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109, USA

Workshop 9
Intellectual and Cultural Life Under Conditions of Austerity

June 4-6, 2018. UEM, Complexo Pedagócico, Room 105, UEM, Arquivo Histórico de Moçambique. Download: Poster in English / Portuguese; Program in English / Portuguese

Workshop 8
Decolonizing Sites of Culture in Africa and Beyond

November 20-22, 2017. Rackham Graduate School, 4th Floor Assembly Hall, 915 E Washington St, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109, USA

Workshop 7
Performance Arts & Political Action

June 22-29, 2017, Maropeng Hotel, Gauteng, South Africa

Workshop 6
Political Subjectivities and Popular Protest

November 14-16 & 29, 2016. Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA

Workshop 5
Technology Studies in Africa

July 11-14, 2016. Durban, South Africa. Organized by Paul Edwards and Gabrielle Hecht and Keith Breckenridge and Faeeza Ballim. 

Workshop 4
Writing History After E.P Thompson

November 16-18, 2015. Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA

Workshop 3
Public Space, Infrastructure, and Informality in the Splintering City

May 4-10, 2015. Johannesburg, South Africa

The workshop explores a variety of pressing questions in contemporary urban theory with the aim of facilitating discussions about contemporary urbanism that draw from a variety of fieldwork experiences and theoretical backgrounds. Issues addressed will include the study of aesthetics, the question of informality, and critical approaches to studying infrastructure. 

Workshop 2
African Studies in the Digital Age

November 10-18, 2014. Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA. Organized by Daniel Herwitz and Derek Peterson (University of Michigan); Keith Breckenbridge (University of the Witwatersrand)

Workshop 1
Theorizing from the South

May 7-16, 2014.  Johannesburg, South Africa. Organized by Gabrielle Hecht, Anne Pitcher, and Martin Murray (University of Michigan); Keith Breckenridge and Sarah Nuttall (University of the Witwatersrand)