UPCOMING SEMINAR - Psychosocial Practice, Peacebuilding and Social Change

Psychosocial Practice, Peacebuilding and Social Change

30th of April 2014

University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg

The terms ‘psychosocial interventions’ and ‘peacebuilding’ are often used as umbrella phrases. A primary goal of ‘psychosocial interventions’ is to improve wellbeing of individuals and families, while ‘peacebuilding’ tends to focus on communal and institutional processes. Psychosocial practitioners often do not see their work as directly related to social change, while those involved in peacebuilding initiatives can have a limiting focus on individual wellbeing. This event will look at the synergies between psychosocial work, social change and communal recovery, within the context of collective violence. Specifically, the event will showcase the findings from a project entitled ‘Trauma, Development and Peacebuilding: Towards an Integrated Psychosocial Approach’. This project was undertaken by the International Conflict Research Institute (INCORE) at the University of Ulster, with multidisciplinary researchers with expertise in violent conflict from around the globe. Articles from the project have been recently published in Intervention, the Journal of Mental health & Psychosocial Support in Conflict Affected Areas. The authors who have contributed to this Special Section will present their work and address the complex question of how to link psychosocial interventions to peacebuilding and social change.


  • Professor Brandon Hamber, Director of INCORE at University of Ulster and Visiting Professor ACMS: Narrowing the gap between psychosocial practice, peacebuilding and wider social change
  • Dr Elizabeth Gallagher, University of Ulster: Psychosocial programming, and macro peacebuilding strategies with young men in Northern Ireland
  • Dr Alison Crosby, Associate Professor in the School of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies, York University: Creativity as an intervention strategy with Mayan women in Guatemala
  • Dr Ingrid Palmary, Associate Professor, ACMS: Remembering, healing and telling: community initiated approaches to trauma care in South Africa.

Seminar held at South West Engineering Seminar Room, Wits University

9:30am to 4pm including lunch. RSVP to

We would like to thank the International Development Research Centre for their support of the research that underpins several of the articles in Intervention, as well as Medico International for their specific support for this event.


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Hotel Yeoville: Intimate Exposure and Who Wants What - Terry Kurgan

Terry Kurgan, Photographer and Senior Artist in Residence, WISER, University of the Witwatersrand.

6th May 2014


Hotel Yeoville (2010) was a technology driven, multi-platform, participatory public art project. It was based online and in the public library of the old Johannesburg suburb of Yeoville, now largely inhabited by migrants and refugees from other parts of the African continent. The public was invited to offer up stories about themselves through mapping, video, photography and text, using various digital interfaces and social media applications. Complicated issues arise when embedding an art project into a social context through a collaborative or reciprocal relationship to that site. It does not necessarily make everyone and everything equal. There are a messy knot of issues and concerns regarding “who wants what” that tend to go along with projects of a participatory nature. This talk will retrospectively reflect upon and interpret the process of public engagement around the project.

Biographical note

Terry Kurgan runs an active Johannesburg studio and public sphere practice and has created a diverse body of work that explores notions of intimacy, pushing at the boundaries between ‘the private’ and ‘the public’ in the South African cultural domain. She has been awarded numerous grants and prizes, including the FNB Vita Art Prize (2000), Business Day/Business Art South Africa awards (2007, 2009), and the inaugural Mbokoda photography award (2012). Hotel Yeoville was shortlisted for the 2012 International Award for Excellence in Public Art (IAPA), and Kurgan’s book Hotel Yeoville, was recently published by Fourthwall Books, Johannesburg (2013). Recent exhibitions include: Public Intimacy: Art And Other Ordinary Acts In South Africa, at San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), (2014); Sharp, Sharp Johannesburg, La Gaite Lyrique, Paris (2013); Interrogation Series: Hotel Yeoville, Storefront For Art and Architecture, New York, NY (2013); and Public Art/Private Lives, Gallery AOP, Johannesburg (2013).

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CALL FOR PAPERS - Vital Instability: Ontological Insecurity in African Urban Spaces

Vital Instability: Ontological Insecurity in African Urban Spaces

A colloquium to be hosted by the African Centre for Migration & Society (ACMS), Wits University Johannesburg, South Africa, 15 to 17 October 2014

Call for Papers and Travel Fellowship Applications

This colloquium aims to trace, through layered social analysis, enfolding ontological concerns, the articulations of manifold insecurities, and responses to these, in geographically diverse African urban spaces. We view African urban spaces as sites in which multiple temporalities, moral and political orders, mediascapes and plural ontologies become enmeshed and reconfigured in spatially and demographically dense locales. Urban spaces include cities but also other sites exhibiting these characteristics, including: displacement camps, labour compounds, ports, boats, and border posts, among others.  In addition we include African diasporic spaces outside of the continent in our geographic ambit. African urban spaces are often characterized by multiple forms of insecurity which may include: violence; joblessness; indeterminate legal regimes; infraestructural fragility; deportations; continual forced removals by state and private actors; epidemic disease; the threats of malevolent spirits or witchcraft, among others. However these insecurities are not simply corrosive but may be vital and generative. Responses to insecurities have multiple articulations: evolving and diverse systems of healing, protection, and ritual; inflamed creative and artistic production; civic or legal provocations and new forms of alliance and sociality.   

Here we aim to explore and theorize, through comparative papers, the manifold insecurities experienced by urban dwellers, and responses to these, as questions of individual, social and spiritual being.  At stake in the struggle for security are not only material or biological concerns but also the generation, stabilization and vitality of plural ontologies. We propose for discussion here, with reference to in African urban spaces, ontological insecurity arises from a proliferation of synchronous, disjunctive and evolving ontological frameworks that in exist in spatial proximity. 

This colloquium aims to provide a comparative empirical and theoretical reflection on understanding ontological insecurity, and responses to it, in urban African spaces. We invite participants from diverse fields in the social sciences including, but not exclusively, anthropology, sociology, political science, urban geography, social psychology among others. A collection of papers will be selected for the development of a special issue to be edited by Dr Matthew Wilhelm-Solomon and Mr Peter Kankonde Bukasa of the ACMS and Dr Lorena Nunez, Department of Sociology, as part of the ACMS hosted Religion and Migration Initiative.   Prof. Dr Hansjörg Dilger from the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, Freie Universität Berlin, will be a critical respondent. 

Several full or partial travel and accommodation fellowships will be provided.  Priority for travel fellowships will be given to African researchers (entailing those from Africa, living in Africa, working at an African institution, or part of an African diaspora community abroad) and conducting research in a non-South African context, but other applications are also welcomed.   Please submit abstracts of no longer than 500 words by 30 May 2014 (responses will be given within two weeks), along with a CV to, and copied to Draft written papers will be required to be submitted by end September for circulation to respondents. Applications for funding should also be included in a motivation letter accompanying the application of no longer than 500 words, specifying estimated travel requirements, along with potential alternate sources of funding. Acceptance to the colloquium is not a guarantee of publication.

  The colloquium is funded by the Volkswagen Foundation "Knowledge for Tomorrow - Postdoctoral Fellowships in the Humanities in Sub Saharan Africa and North Africa" programme and hosted by the African Centre for Migration & Society

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Semester 1

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White but Illegal: Undocumented Madeiran Immigration to South Africa, 1920s-1970s

22nd April 2014

Clive Glaser, Department of History, University of the Witwatersrand.

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Comparative Perspectives on Reforming Regional Migrant Labour Regimes

On 19 March 2014 the African Centre for Migration and Society, the South African core partner of the DFID-funded Migrating out of Poverty consortium, hosted a panel discussion on Comparative Perspectives of Reforming Regional Migrant Labour Regimes. Click here to view the full story.

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Loren Landau on Huffpost Live Hosted by Mike Sacks: Violence in South Africa

February 20, 2013

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Matthew Wilhelm-Solomon opinion piece in the Mail and Guardian

Migration is a tale that knows no bounds

23 August 2013

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Matthew Wilhelm-Solomon opinion piece in the Mail and Guardian

J’oburg hills are alive with visions

13 September 2013

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Matthew Wilhelm-Solomon opinion piece in The ConMag

Black Bees swarm around treason trial venue

December 15, 2013

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