Eminent South African scholar joins SAS as its fourth Emeka Anyaoku chair

Tuesday 29 November 2016

Leading South African intellectual Professor Xolela Mangcu, has been appointed as the School of Advanced Study’s (SAS) Emeka Anyaoku Chair in Commonwealth Studies.

Described as ‘possibly the most prolific public intellectual in South Africa’ by The Sunday Times, he is professor of sociology at the University of Cape Town, and the 2016 Harry Oppenheimer Hutchins Fellow at the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University. He will be based at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies (ICWS) and arrives in January 2017.

Professor Mangcu, who also held the 2014 Oppenheimer Fellow at Harvard, said he was honoured by the appointment: ‘It really does not get better than this: to hold a chair named for one of Africa’s most distinguished diplomats, Emeka Anyaoku, in one of the world’s foremost academic institutions, the Institute of Commonwealth Studies.’

An acclaimed author of nine books (and more than two dozen journal articles and book chapters), Professor Mangcu wrote Biko: an autobiography (I.B. Tauris, 2013). He was finalist for the Sunday Times Alan Paton Award for Non-Fiction, the Recht Malan Prize, the South African Books Award and most recently, the UCT Meritorious Book Award.

‘I am currently writing a new biography of the 20th-century’s most beloved political figure, Nelson Mandela. The Institute of Commonwealth Studies has exactly the kind of archival material that will help me tell a fuller story of how Mandela parlayed his colonial-Victorian-nationalist modernity to bring about racial reconciliation in South Africa, with all the limitations thereof. The book suggests it may be better to look at Mandela as a classic tragic hero instead of the individual, romantic hero we have come to know.’

Professor Philip Murphy, ICWS director, said: ‘We are, in turn, honoured to be able to welcome Xolela Mangcu here as our fourth Emeka Anyaoku Visiting Professor. We hope that the institute will provide him with an ideal platform from which to reach out to audiences in the UK. The ICWS has long been a major focus for the study of South African politics in Britain, and we are delighted to be able to assist in the production of what promises to be an important reassessment of the life and legacy of Nelson Mandela.’

The Chair in Commonwealth Studies, named in honour of Chief Emeka Anyaoku, who served as Commonwealth Secretary-General from 1990 to 2000, was created in 2003. It became a visiting professorship awarded on an annual basis in 2012.

Its purpose was to enable a leading scholar from a non-UK Commonwealth country to spend some time in Britain, in the process advancing and disseminating their own research and developing links between the UK higher education sector and their home institution. Three distinguished academics have already occupied the visiting chair: Professors Joseph Ayee (Ghana), Eghosa Osaghae (Nigeria) and Susan Parnell (South Africa).

Professor Mangcu has also been a fellow at The Brookings Institution, Rockefeller Foundation, John F Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

He holds a PhD in City and Regional Planning from Cornell University, and MS (Development Planning) and BA (Sociology) degrees from Wits University in Johannesburg. Professor Mangcu is also the author and co-author of The Colour of Our Future: Does Race Still Matter in Post-Apartheid South Africa, The Meaning of Mandela (essays by Henry Louis Gates Jr, Cornel West and Wole Soyinka) and Becoming Worthy Ancestors (essays by Kwame Anthony Appiah, Benedict Anderson, Martin Bernal and others).


Notes for editors:
1. For further information please contact Maureen McTaggart at the School of Advanced Study, University of London at maureen.mctaggart@sas.ac.uk / 020 7862 8653. Images available on request.

2. The Institute of Commonwealth Studies (ICWS) is the only postgraduate academic institution in the UK devoted to the study of the Commonwealth. Founded in 1949, its purpose is to promote interdisciplinary and inter-regional research on the Commonwealth and its member nations in the fields of history, politics and other social sciences.  Its areas of specialism include international development, governance, human rights, north-south relations and conflict and security.  The Institute of Commonwealth Studies is a member institute of the School of Advanced Study, University of London. www.commonwealth.sas.ac.uk or follow the institute on Twitter at @ICWS_SAS

3. The School of Advanced Study (SAS), University of London is the UK’s national centre for the promotion and support of research in the humanities. SAS and its member institutes offer unparalleled academic opportunities, facilities and stimulation across a wide range of subject areas for the benefit of the national and international scholarly community. In 2014-15, SAS: welcomed 805 research fellows and associates; held 2,073 research dissemination events; received 23.1 million visits to its digital research resources and platforms; and received 213,456 visits to its specialist libraries and collections. The School also leads the UK’s only nationwide festival of the humanities: Being Human. Find out more at www.sas.ac.uk or follow SAS on Twitter at @SASNews

4. The University of London is a federal University and is one of the oldest, largest and most diverse universities in the UK. Established by Royal Charter in 1836, the University is recognised globally as a world leader in Higher Education. Its members are 18 self-governing institutions of outstanding reputation, together with a number of prestigious central academic bodies and activities. Learn more about the University of London at http://www.london.ac.uk