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Prof Ari Sitas

The Order of Mapungubwe in

Prof Ari Sitas Awarded for:
His excellent contribution to social science scholarship and progressive policy-making. He is also a renowned storyteller and poet. He is a multitalented scientist who moves effortlessly between profound knowledge production and the arts.
Prof Ari Sitas was born on 5 December 1952. He received his Doctor of Philosophy degree at the University of the Witwatersrand in 1984.

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

As 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, where Sitas serves as Board Chairperson. He also heads 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 the 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-Ludwigs University of Freiburg and was awarded the inaugural Bhagat Singh Chair at the Centre for Historical Studies of JNU in 2016.

Sitas has been a senior fellow and research associate in a number of institutions, including the University of California in Berkeley, Ruskin College in Oxford, and Oxford University in England. 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.

He served on the Board of the Chris Hani Institute and currently directs a Department of Science and 51 Technology’s Grand Challenge Research programme on African Diaspora and Migration; the award-winning global studies Master’s programme established between Germany, South Africa and India, and a variety of joint research projects with international colleagues.

His recent publications include The Ethic of Reconciliation (2007); The Mandela Decade-Labour Culture and Society in Post-Apartheid South Africa (2010); principal author of Gauging and Engaging Deviance 1600-2000 (2014) and The Flight of the Gwala-Gwala Bird (2016).

His poetry work started with Tropical Scars (1989), Songs Shoeshine and Piano (1991), Slave Trades (2000), RDP Poems (2004), Around the World in 80 Days (2013), Rough Music (2014) and Vespa Diaries (2018).

His work has been translated into isiZulu, German, French, Greek, Turkish, Slovenian, Urdu, Hindi and Malayalam. Sitas was an inaugural executive member of the Congress of South African Writers and KwaZulu-Natal’s general secretary. He is also a founder member of the Natal Culture Congress.