Mad Men: A South African Media History. The aspirational syntax of men’s magazines: A South African media history, 1910 to the present.

Men’s magazines had their official start in South Africa in 1910 with the inception of publications aimed at asserting the continued role of the Empire in establishing a benchmark of good taste. At this time there was little awareness of political correctness and the magazines perpetuated an ironic endorsement of the very best of British … [Read more]

Contemporary law: the dialectic of unity and plurality

The simultaneous unity and plurality of law was a central topic for Hans Kelsen. He conceived of unity and plurality in accordance of the so-called black box model. For him, global law consisted of territorially differentiated national legal orders as well as international law addressing the relationships between these legal orders (or the states personifying … [Read more]

Ubuntu: a Meta-norm for the West?

Ubuntu is an Nguni word that covers a broad semantic field to signify a sharing that connects humans and typifies all right thinking. As such, it functions as a meta-norm, similar to the religious Halacha in Judaism, Dharma in Hinduism[1] and even the Western enlightenment discourse on universal human rights. Since the 1990s, ubuntu has … [Read more]

States of Terror: History, Theory, Literature

After 9/11 The USA declared war on an emotion. Words in the fear-terror cluster have a long history of ambiguously referencing internal states and external agents. My project will examine key moments in that history. The King James Bible translators are significant for their dissemination of God’s terrors ( as opposed to fear or dread, … [Read more]

The Performance of Democracies

Democracy as an overall model for how societies should be governed must be seen as a remarkable success. Over the last centuries, several waves of democracy have swept over the globe, bringing representative democracy to places where it seemed inconceivable fifty, or even twenty-five years ago. More countries than ever are now considered to be … [Read more]

“Symbolic Classification”

The project enquires into the role of symbolic classification in the construction and reproduction of inequality. It pursues the hypothesis that the mechanisms constituting and naturalizing racism are the same as in social and gender inequality. This hypothesis was generated in a long-term research project on social and gender inequality in Asia, Europe and Latin … [Read more]

Bridging between the Physical and Biological Worlds

Living and non-living systems are strikingly different. Yet the established principles of physics and chemistry seem unable to clarify the basis for that difference and a wide conceptual gulf continues to separate animate and inanimate. Science continues to struggle with two central questions regarding living systems: how was life able to emerge from non-life, and … [Read more]

Creating a Liberal Empire: Histories and Legacies

This book will address the question of how liberal society attempts to reconcile empire to its values and principles. This is not only a contemporary issue. It is also historical. In the early nineteenth century, the British Empire self- consciously faced this issue as it created the colonies of Australia and New Zealand. At this … [Read more]

Hiraeth (a novel)

The creative project, a novel with the working title ‘Hiraeth’, is conceived of as a mythopeoic journey story undertaken by nine young misfits from different parts of the world, attending a private boarding school in Kenya, who are haunted by a common dream and the persistent summons of a honey-guide. In the story, they end … [Read more]

Texts/Forms and Transformations: A Poetics of the African Imagination

African narratives in both their traditional and contemporary phases apparently extend or re-stage tendencies previously encoded in folklore. These narratives are related not because newer ones or forms simply repeat previous ones but in the way in which continuity and innovation are simultaneous aspects of evolving traditions. These connections (as well as divergences), both cultural … [Read more]