The Institute of Social and Economic Research (ISER) at Rhodes University, which includes the Neil Aggett Labour Studies Unit (NALSU), hosted a Harold Wolpe Colloquium in Grahamstown on 22-24 September 2015. The theme of the colloquium was Reengaging the work of Harold Wolpe: Understanding Race, Class and the “Post-Apartheid State” in the struggle to create a more egalitarian South Africa. The colloquium was co-funded by NALSU and the Norwegian Government, and was organised in partnership with the Harold Wolpe Trust.
Participants were welcomed by Dr Peter Clayton, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research & Development at Rhodes University, and the opening address was delivered by the Ambassador of Norway, H.E. Ms Trine Skymoen. Presentations were organised in terms of the following themes: Class, race and gender in post-apartheid South Africa; Labour and capital in post-apartheid South Africa; The state and transformation of South African society; Intellectuals and societal change; and Education in post-apartheid South Africa. The following participants delivered papers: Dr AnnMarie Wolpe, Prof Lungisile Ntsebeza, Prof Robert Van Niekerk, Prof Edward Webster, Prof Martin Legassick, Dr John Reynolds, Prof Adam Habib, Prof Greg Ruiters, Prof Ben Fine, Prof Gavin Williams, Prof Fred Hendricks, Prof Elaine Unterhalter, and Prof David Cooper. Further contributions to work following from this colloquium will be made by Dr Saleem Badat, Prof Imraan Valodia, and Prof Vishnu Padayachee.
The colloquium and the work flowing from it are linked to a larger, joint research project on the state, social change and public policy, drawing on the intellectual legacy of Harold Wolpe, which is being developed by scholars based in the ISER and at the University of the Witwatersrand, as per an agreement with the Harold Wolpe Memorial Trust. An example of the cooperation between these two universities was the co-hosting of a Harold Wolpe Memorial Lecture on the campus of the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg on 9 October 2015. The lecture, entitled Diagnosing African Politics, was delivered by Dr Carlos Lopes, the eighth UN Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa. Prof Van Niekerk of the ISER welcomed participants on behalf of Rhodes University and contextualised the lecture within the larger academic initiative within which it was embedded. Dr Lopes was then introduced by Prof Adam Habib, Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Witwatersrand. Further news on the lecture, including a link to Dr Lopes’ paper, can be found at http://www.wits.ac.za/newsroom/newsitems/201510/27474/news_item_27474.html.