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Wits professor first ever NRF A-rated political scientist

- Wits University

Professor Lawrence Hamilton is the first political scientist in the history of the National Research Foundation (NRF) rating system to receive an A-rating.

An A-rated researcher is defined as someone who is recognised by their peers as a leading international scholar in their field for the high quality and impact of their recent research outputs. 

The NRF rates individual researchers (not departments) and, especially in the humanities and social sciences, A-ratings are unusual.  

Hamilton, who is the NRF/British Academy Bilateral Research Chair in Political Theory at Wits University and Cambridge University, received the A-rating on 29 November 2017 following a yearlong international peer review process. 

Reviewers described his work as cutting edge and having a major international impact. It is shaping the discourse on needs, power and freedom, and offers a genuinely novel theory of political power and democratic practice. It has created fresh dialogue across disciplines, particularly political theory, philosophy, and development economics. 

His most recent book, Freedom is Power: Liberty Through Political Representation (CUP 2014) was described as a major contribution to the literature and a powerful critique of prevailing approaches. There was also an appreciation for the rigorous application of his sophisticated theoretical work to South African case studies and questions in particular. 

Hamilton leads an academic exchange programme in political theory, 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. The programme aims to balance historical colonial power relations by empowering the global South through research and engagement. 

Hamilton’s rating brings to 28 the total number of A-rated researchers at Wits.