Ari Sitas

Job Title: 
South African BRICS Think Tank (SABTT) Chairperson

Professor Ari Sitas is the Chairperson of the South African BRICS Think Tank (SABTT), serving as the South African representative on the BRICS Think Tanks Council (BTTC).

A platform for researchers and academics to exchange ideas and generate evidence-based policy recommendations, the SABTT aims to shape the strategic vision of South Africa and the wider African region around global financial, economic and governance issues, and to conduct policy analysis to inform the long-term strategy of the BRICS.

The SABTT is currently under the custodianship of the National Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences (NIHSS), where Professor Sitas serves as Board Chairperson. He also heads up the University of Cape Town’s Sociology Department.

A scholar of sociology and political philosophy, Sitas was a founder member of Junction Avenue Theatre Company. He has received numerous accolades for artistic works, including an Olive Schreiner Award for their play Randlords and Rotgut. He is also a celebrated poet, and has held numerous prestigious positions, including a Fellowship at the Institute of Advanced Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi and a Guest Professorship at the Albert-Ludvigs University of Freiburg and was awarded the inaugural Bhagat Singh Chair at the Centre for Historical Studies of JNU in 2016.

Prof Sitas has been a senior fellow and research associate in a number of institutions, including the University of California, Berkeley, Ruskin College and Oxford University. He is a past president of the South African Sociological Association, a Vice-President of the International Sociological Association and was an Executive member of the African Sociological Association.

Sitas served on the Board of the Chris Hani Institute and currently directed a Department of Science and Technology Grand Challenge Research programme on African Diasporas and Migrations; the award-winning Global Studies Masters Programme inaugurated between Germany, South Africa and India, and a variety of joint research projects with international colleagues. His recent publications include: The Ethic of Reconciliation, Durban and New Delhi, Madiba Press, 2007; The Mandela Decade-Labour Culture and Society in Post-Apartheid South Africa, Pretoria: UNISA Press, 2010; principal author of Gauging and Engaging Deviance, 1600-2000, New Delhi: Tulika Press, 2014 and The flight of the Gwala-Gwala Bird, Cape Town: SAHO in 2016. Sitas’ policy work ranged from defining the fields of Social Studies in the post-apartheid National Qualifications Framework to serving on a range of projects in the KwaZulu-Natal’s Social and Economic Council 1996-9; directing the drafting of the African Union’s “Accelerated Industrialisation Plan” adopted in 2008 and steering and drafting the KwaZulu-Natal’s Recovery Programme during the 2009 economic crisis. He was tasked in 2010 by the Minister of Higher Education to develop together with Prof Sarah Mosoetsa, a Charter for the Future of the Humanities and the Social Sciences (2011) which is being proposed as the basis for a Pan African document after the Bamako Dialogue on the World Congress of the Humanities in 2017.

He is currently coordinating a major multi-institutional AfroAsia research programme (2016-21) which explores the movement of material and symbolic goods (from ideas to music) between 700CE and 1500CE funded by the Andrew W Mellon foundation.

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