Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research (WiSER)

Established by Deborah Posel in September 2001 WISER very quickly established itself as the pre-eminent interdisciplinary research institute in the humanities and social sciences in South Africa, and one of the most influential globally. The institute draws on a history of advanced interdisciplinary research at Wits that dates back to the late 1960s, but over the last decade, in particular, it has pursued five main objectives with distinctive energy and enterprise. These are: to foster independent, critical inquiry into the complexities and paradoxes of change in South Africa; to conduct this enquiry by drawing intensively on comparative international research especially from the African continent; to foreground the global theoretical significance of WISER’s research agenda; to combine aesthetic and social scientific analyses; and to provide an institutional space that strengthens the scholarly dialogue between South African researchers and academics in the rest of the world. In all these areas WISER has achieved very significant success.   For many years the institute has succeeded in addressing both a local, popular audience interested in the post-Apartheid moment and a large global scholarly network.  Since 2013, under Sarah Nuttall's directorship, and with generous support from Wits and outside donors, the Institute has grown significantly, shaping global and local audiences with an interest in the pressing political and cultural concerns of the Post-Apartheid and postcolonial era.

The Franklin Humanities Institute's partnership with WiSER partnership grew out of our co-sponsorship of the Johannesburg Workshop in Theory and Criticism, which held its final session in Summer 2015. Our current collaboration with WiSER supports inter-campus visits by Duke and Wits faculty.