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Wits-Cambridge exchange in political theory aims to redress historical colonial power relations

- Wits University

Wits University and the University of Cambridge, UK, have announced an academic exchange programme in political theory.

The programme, launched by the SARChI/Newton Bilateral NRF/British Academy Research Chair in Political Theory, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, and the Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS), University of Cambridge, aims to balance historical colonial power relations by empowering the global South through research and engagement.

The programme is one of the central pillars of the Chair in Political Theory, held by Wits Professor of Political Studies, Lawrence Hamilton, in the School of Social Sciences. The purpose of the Chair is to deepen understanding – and thus citizen agency – in politics by building research networks in political theory between the two institutions. A condition of the Chair is that Hamilton spends six months at Wits and the remaining six months of the year at Cambridge. 

“We live in a globalized world, heavily determined by histories of colonial power relations. An exchange programme of this kind is a feather in the cap of Wits and the NRF [National Research Foundation] because it is part of a vital attempt to re-balance that history by enabling political theorists from the global South to participate on an equal footing," says Hamilton.

"There are equal resources on both sides; that is, to send young political theorists from Wits to Cambridge and vice versa. In both directions, this programme enables African political theorists to really theorize from the global South, talk back to the global North, and not allow Africa to be another laboratory for the global North." 

Early career lecturers, postdoctoral fellows and PhD students whose research in political theory would benefit from spending time in the other institution are encouraged to apply. The programme accommodates visits for one to six months in either institution.

The deadline to apply to participate in the exchange programme is 15 October

“This programme enables a vigorous exchange of ideas from the perspectives of two very different contexts. Such engagement increases the prominence and promise of political theory in South Africa to better understand and promote the country’s transformation agenda,” says Hamilton.