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In February 2016, Prof Lawrence Hamilton was awarded an NRF/British Academy SA-UK Bilateral Research Chair in Political Theory (the only one in Humanities, see award ceremony 4 May 2016).

The condition of this Chair is that he spends half of each year in the Department of Political Studies, University of the Witwatersrand (Wits, South Africa and the other half in the Department of Politics and International Relations (POLIS), Cambridge, UK, building research networks in political theory between the two institutions.

Four Central Purposes

The Chair has four central purposes:

  1. to enable Wits and Cambridge to build on their excellence in political theory through a vigorous exchange of ideas from the perspectives of two different contexts; 
  2. to use this collaboration to increase the prominence and promise of political theory in South Africa by transforming the discipline and using it to better understand and promote South Africa's transformation agenda;
  3. to build a vibrant exchange programme for graduate students and colleagues between the two institutions; and
  4. to supervise graduate students and postdoctoral fellows at both institutions.

The Chair will enable growth in the number of graduate students and research fellows researching in political theory by offering scholarships at various levels.  Over time the Chair intends to expand the exchange programme to include the University of Ghana, Makarere University, the University of the Western Cape, the University of Cape Town, various London universities, and the University of Helsinki.

Lawrence Hamilton

In terms of his own research and graduate teaching, Professor Hamilton offers a novel approach to political theory. His research interests include topics in contemporary political theory, such as states, power, representation, freedom, needs, rights, resistance, democracy, markets and political judgement, as informed by real world politics, particularly in the global South, the history of political thought, and South African politics, political economy and intellectual history.

He welcomes interested Masters and Doctoral students at Wits and Cambridge for supervision on any of these or related topics or thinkers. Notices will soon also be posted regarding the exchange programme. Please feel free to contact Prof Hamilton on or to find out more about supervision or the exchange programme.  

Prof. Hamilton has taught and researched at 6 universities on 3 continents and currently, at Wits, is supervising 8 PhD students and 2 postdoctoral fellows.  He is the author of several books including The Political Philosophy of Needs (Cambridge University Press 2003); (Bloomsbury 2014); Are South Africans Free? (Bloomsbury 2014); and Freedom is Power: Liberty Through Political Representation (Cambridge University Press 2014).  He is a Life Member of Clare Hall and an elected member of the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf). He is editor-in-chief of Theoria: A Journal of Social and Political Theory, and has received more than ten awards for research excellence, including this Research Chair, a TOFAC Award (2014), an  NRF President's Award (2007-11) and the Gladstone Memorial Prize (1996). 

Prof Lawrence Hamilton co-founded and co-directs the Association for Political Theory in Africa (APTA), for his CV visit APTA NRF British Academy Research Chair in Political Theory: Prof Lawrence Hamilton.

For more information on APTA visit the Association for Political Theory in Africa (APTA).