Symposium on Democracy & the Future of Institutions
This symposium will take the form of an moderated open-ended panel discussion, in which the participants seek answers and insight to the following key question: What are the key elements of future institutions that are needed to deepen democracy and to support intergenerational fair transitions?
Many of the institutions democracy depends on for its vitality are struggling now more than ever. Often captured by private interests, they are increasingly unable to meet the needs of the present without compromising the rights of future generations and citizens.
The question driving this Symposium is the following: What are the key elements of future institutions that are needed to deepen democracy and to support intergenerational fair transitions? Drawing mostly on the South African case, the Symposium will examine the ways in which decisions being made today will have distributional costs and benefits that play out over long timescales, with certain impact on future generations. It will also explore emerging thoughts and practices as well as ways in which an awareness of possible futures can be nurtured and how an “intergenerational fairness principle” can be operationalised and institutionalised in African contexts.
This symposium will take the form of an moderated open-ended panel discussion.
The event has free admission and will also be openly accessible to watch live on the Holberg Prize YouTube Channel. If you wish to attend in person, please register here:
15:30-16:00 SAST Tea/Coffee
16:00-17:30 SAST Symposium on Democracy & the Future of Institutions.
Venue: WISER, 6th Floor Richard Ward Building, University of Witwatersrand.
Sheila Jasanoff is Pforzheimer Professor of Science and Technology Studies at the Harvard Kennedy School. A pioneer in the social sciences, she explores the role of science and technology in the law, politics, and policy of modern democracies. Jasanoff founded and directs the STS Program at Harvard University. She was awarded the Holberg Prize in 2022. Her books include The Fifth Branch (1990), Science at the Bar (1995), Designs on Nature (2005), The Ethics of Invention (2016), and Can Science Make Sense of Life? (2019).
Sizwe Mpofu-Walsh is a Lecturer in the Department of International Relations at Wits University. He holds a DPhil in International Relations from the University of Oxford. His first book Democracy and Delusion: 10 Myths in South African Politics (2017) won the City Press-Tafelberg Nonfiction Award. The book was accompanied by a rap album of the same name. His second book The New Apartheid (2021) was one of the bestselling books in South Africa that year. He is the host of the prime time current affairs show ‘Unfiltered’ on SABC News.
Keith Breckenridge is a Professor and acting Co-Director at WiSER, where he holds the Standard Bank Chair in African Trust Infrastructures. He writes about the cultural and economic history of South Africa, particularly the gold mining industry, the state and the development of information systems. For the last twenty years he has been writing about biometric identification systems and their political effects, especially on the African continent.
Achille Mbembe (Chair)
Achille Mbembe is a Research Professor in History and Politics (Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research) and the Director of the Innovation Foundation for Democracy at the University of Witwatersrand. A member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a Fellow of the British Academy, he is the author of ten books and his work has been translated into fifteen languages. His latest book is La communauté terrestre (Paris, La Découverte, 2023).
The Holberg Prize, established by the Norwegian Parliament in 2003, is an international prize worth NOK 6,000,000, awarded annually to a scholar who has made outstanding contributions to research in the humanities, social science, law or theology, either in one of these fields or through interdisciplinary work. The Holberg Prize is funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research and hosted by the University of Bergen, Norway.
The Innovation Foundation for Democracy is a new initiative that was established in 2022. The Foundation aims to rejuvenate democracy in Africa, particularly amongst young people, through research and training initiatives and innovative democratic projects. The Foundation is hosted by the Wits University from where it serves the continent.