24 Annual SASA Congress


Critical Sociological Reflections on Contemporary Prostest Movements

Proudly hosted by the South African Sociologial Association and Sociology (Mafikeng)

Sunday 2 July – Wednesday 5 July 2017 

Central Lecture Block (CLB), Mafikeng Campus

Most recently, South Africa has witnessed and experienced a new wave of protests centred on the hashtag (#) slogans, calling for an end to a or change in the prevailing unsatisfactory situation (be it political, educational, economic or even social). The new slogans were first coined by students within the tertiary and higher education sector, in protests against colonial and apartheid symbols as in the slogan #RhodesMustFall, and against the escalating educational costs in the slogan #FeesMustFall. These new slogans have since been appropriated by other societal sectors as represented by #DataMustFall against unreasonably high rates charged for access to internet, and by opposition political parties and civil society organisations through #ZuptaMustFall, in their call for an end to corrupt political leadership that colludes with corrupt big business. While these new slogans underpin the post-apartheid struggle meant to consolidate the hard earned democracy as well as to ensure that the government is accountable, they are however by no means new to South Africa. The anti-apartheid and political liberation struggle also harnessed similar slogans such as Down with Apartheid!, Down with Bantu Education!, Down with Pass Laws!, Phansi nge Apartheid, Phansi nge Bantu Education, and Down with Forced Removals. Through these slogans, they called for an end to apartheid and all its oppressive racist laws, and for the establishment of a democratic order. Similarly, other sectors such as labour unions used slogans such as Tools Down! and Chalks Down!, in their collective struggles against employers.

Common to all of these slogans is the call and demand for removal of something i.e. demand for transformative, radical change from the prevailing order to a desirable one. They also represent a rich tradition in South Africa of protest and resistance politics, and how this continue to inspire new forms of protests in the present post-apartheid period. While in the past, such slogans were often accompanied by others articulating the nature and kind desired change such as One Man, One Vote!, in demand for universal suffrage for all adult South Africans to have the right to vote; in the new wave of protests, it has seldom been made explicit what should be the substitution of the prevailing state of affairs (however implied). This has led to the coining of yet another slogan, #WhatMustRise, not by protesters themselves but as the theme for the annual Ahmed Kathrada Foundation Lecture, calling on the nation to figure out the desired change. It is in this spirit that the 24th annual SASA congress employs a similar theme in order to provide a platform for sociologists to engage in this national discourse through which they could contribute towards the shaping of the desired order. The relevance of this discourse is not applicable to South Africa but also to the global level. This is especially so in view of the present wave of ideological shifts in the United Kingdom, the United States of America and the former Western Europe, towards what is perceived as return to political conservatism. This as signified by the Brexit phenomenon and the triumph of the Republican Party in the USA led by Donald Trump (perceived as racist and xenophobic), and now the prospect of yet another conservative party victory in the upcoming French national elections.  The 2017SASA congress therefore would not only serve as a platform to reflect on the national scenario but also on the international one in view of these observed realities in the North. It is expected that research to be shared at this congress would address themselves a wide range of questions (directly and indirectly) related to these new developments. 

Professor Sari Hanafi of Lebanon, American University of Beirut, and Professor Pitika Ntuli of South Africa, will address the two main keynotes.


Keynote speakers

Prof. Sari Hanafi is from Lebanon, studied in Damascus and Paris (PhD. distinction), and has served in various capacities in research, political activism, visiting professor and consultant at various institutions and in different countries. It includes consultancy for UNICEF on refugee children in the Palestinian region, and the EU to assess proposals on democracy, governance and human rights. Some of his research areas and interests include Palestine and Arab issues, NGO’s, social theory, liberation, micro and macro-politics and science, policy and language, cultural sociology. He has been interviewed by a number of international and local media agencies and journals on his insights on a number of socio-political issues, among other activities that he has engaged in his illustrious academic and activist career. South African social scientists should take this opportunity to engage with such a scholar at the South African. 

Prof. Pitika Ntuli is from Springs, Johannesburg, and studied in parts of Southern Africa, UK, USA and is a poet, fine artist and consultant. He is a fellow of the Mapungubwe Institute, and has received many awards for his work. He has filled several influential positions, locally and internationally.  He has published in the areas of arts, African renaissance, education and culture. He has had numerous individual, group and curated exhibitions, and commissioned work and his work is displayed at various galleries internationally, and in various media outlets. Prof. Ntuli is a profound artist and inspiration to academics and students, and continues to contribute, as in the current discourse of decolonization.

Further international Key speakers: plans are in their final stages to call in 10 senior and junior sociologists from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) to energize the conference with BRICS sessions.

Call for papers



In the wake of the 2008 global financial crisis there has been an upsurge popular protest across the world. From the uprisings in the Arab world, anti-austerity protests in Europe, the Occupy movement in the U.S., and protests in Turkey and Brazil. At the same time, there has been an increasing wave of right-wing mobilisations represented by phenomena like Brexit and the election of Donald Trump. To the extent that prominent narratives reach the African continent, they often focus on the spectacular cases of Egypt and Tunisia, while simultaneously abstracting them from their context on the African continent. Sub-Saharan Africa, particularly Southern Africa, is rarely included in the emerging narrative of popular resistance. This is despite the fact it has been claimed that South Africa is ‘arguably the protest capital of the world’.

#FeesMustFall and #RhodesMustFall are the latest in a series of protests – from service delivery protests to workers strikes – that have come to characterise and dominate the postapartheid political landscape. While #FeesMustFall can be viewed within a continuum of anti-apartheid and post-apartheid struggle, this protest movement has brought challenging new dimensions to the repertoires of contention. From experimentations with participatory democracy to centering demands for intersectionality. In response, a new question has arisen #WhatMustRise?

The 24th annual SASA Congress will provide sociological reflections on the role of protest movements in contemporary society. To what extent have movements – worker, student, community – been successful in winning discursive or structural change? How are movements shaping political and social life? How have movements impacted electoral politics and what is the future of democracy? We invite scholars to critically engage with these and related questions regarding social, political and economic social change in South Africa and beyond in a period of rapidly shifting political landscapes.

An abstract engaging with these themes should be submitted via the online submission portal by 31 May 2017. Abstracts should be no more than 300 words.


Registration information

Please note:

  • The registration is not transferable and this form pertains only to conference registration.
  • Only e-mailed registration forms will be accepted.
  • Each delegate has to complete a registration form. The same fee structure applies for accompanying person(s).
  • Conference registration is entirely separate from SASA membership. While a reduced conference fee is available to paid-up, current SASA members, payment for membership and for registration is made into different bank accounts. Ensure that your SASA membership is paid and updated before registration in order to qualify for a reduced fee. Please visit for membership details.
  • Once you have submitted the registration form, the North West University will generate an invoice with payment details. Your registration will only be complete once you provide us with proof of payment.
  • Full-time students have to e-mail proof of university registration with the Congress registration form.


Residence accommodation

Accommodation available in NWU residences. The residence daily rates and conditions are available in the registration form. Please note that residence bedrooms do not have servicing, and will have communal/shared bathrooms.

Private accommodation

List of guest houses/lodges/hotels