The Wits Institute of Social and Economic Research as welcomed a number of new researchers in 2019. 

Award-winning author Sizwe Mpofu-Walsh is one of the 10 new writers and researchers joining the Wits Institute of Social and Economic Research (WiSER) in 2019. The new cohort was announced by the institute on Tuesday, February 5.

The new members have been brought in to work on WiSER’s key research themes for the year which include: rethinking regions and how they impact research, exploring technologies through a multidisciplinary approach, and climate change.

Mpofu-Walsh, who is the author of award-winning book Democracy and Delusions: 10 Myths in South African Politics (2017), and has produced a rap album of the same name, says that he joined WiSER as their 2019 Writer in Residence because it is the premier humanitarian institute in Africa.

“I thought it would be a great home to pursue the ending of my PhD and the writing of my second book,” he told Wits Vuvuzela.

“I’ve also been away from South Africa for so long and I’m feeling at home as Wits was the first place I ever lived because my mother was the warden of Barnato Hall [residence] in the late 80s,” he added.

Mpofu-Walsh is currently completing a DPhil at Oxford University on the politics of nuclear weapon free zones . He is also working on a book on the effects of privatisation in post-apartheid South Africa.

WiSER chair Prof Sarah Nuttall says that the institute appoints academics as well as artists, writers, and composers to produce humanities research that is written by Africans for an African audience and is more accessible to audiences both within and outside of academia.

“We appoint people on an ad hoc process,” Nuttall said. “We approach people who we feel are doing work relevant to our research themes and we get approached by people wanting to do research with us.”

Nuttall, who has been at WiSER since 2001, says that the Institute has grown over the years from seven to 32 people. Their work has expanded to include some policy work, doctoral and postdoctoral teaching.

Prof Richard Rottenburg, Sisonke Msimang, Dr Mpho Matsipa, Dr Tinashe Mushakavanhu, Dr Okechukwu Nwafor, Teresa Colliver, Souad Zeineddine, Makhosazana Xaba, and Mbali Khoza are the other names joining the team at WiSER for periods ranging 18 months to 3 years.

FEATURED IMAGE: Author Sizwe Mpofu-Walsh is one of the new faces of WiSER for 2019
Photo: Naledi Mashishi