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JIAS writing fellows 2018 arrive in Johannesburg


CADEMICS, writers, and other intellectuals from five countries and several continents have converged on the Johannesburg Institute For Advanced Study (JIAS) in Westdene, Johannesburg, for a fully sponsored four-month Writing Term.

JIAS is one of only two Institutes for Advanced Study in the country. It is also unusual in that it is a shared initiative between two universities in different countries: the University of Johannesburg (UJ), and Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.

Established in 2005, JIAS is playing an increasingly important role in advanced scholarship in South and southern Africa, as well as in forging global linkages among disciplines and scholars.

This annual intake of Writing Fellows is the third in JIAS’s existence. The programme thus far has been enormously successful, with Fellows producing a range of published books, films, plays, accredited academic papers, and other intellectual output emanating from their sojourns at JIAS.

Selected from more than 300 applicants, the 2018 Writing Fellows include authors, journalists, and scholars in various disciplines from Africa and Asia.

Writing Fellows have access to live-in suites at the JIAS complex in Westdene, Johannesburg, where they enjoy a quiet space for work and reflection, and participate in academic community-building. they also have access to extensive facilities at the University of Johannesburg.

Commenting on the final selection, Prof Peter Vale, JIAS Director, said he was gratified by the large number of applications, which attested to the growing role of JIAS in fostering interdisciplinary thought and research.

‘We are excited by the pool of talent these Fellows represent. We hope their stay at JIAS will be productive, and they will make full use of this opportunity to share in and build an intercontinental community of scholars.’


The 2018 Writing Fellows are:

Dr Meng-Hsuan Chou, Nanyang Assistant Professor in the Public Policy and Global Affairs Programme at NTU Singapore.

Dr David Huang Junsong, Assistant Dean: Research Strategy in the Office of Education Research, National Institute of Education (NIE), Singapore.

Dr Geoffrey Maiyoh, Senior Lecturer and Postgraduate programme coordinator in the Department of Medical Biochemistry, School of Medicine, Moi University, Kenya.

Niq Mhlongo, South African journalist and novelist.

Hans Pienaar, South African novelist and journalist.

Prof Joel Quirk, Professor of Politics at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.

Kevin Riordan, Assistant Professor of English at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.

Amrita Shah, a journalist and writer based in Mumbai/Bangalore, India.

Charlie Samuya Veric, critic, poet, and lecturer in literature and cultural theory at Ateneo de Manila University in the Philippines.

Zukiswa Wanner, a South African journalist and novelist, born in Zambia and now based in Kenya.

More about JIAS

THE Johannesburg Institute for Advanced Study (JIAS) is a joint initiative of the University of Johannesburg (UJ), South Africa, and Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore.

Launched in May 2015, JIAS aims to create the conditions in which scholars can deliver cutting-edge interdisciplinary thought and research at the highest academic level.

This is done by reaching beyond the regular teaching and research routines of contemporary higher education, and by encouraging collaborative scholarly co-operation in both the Humanities and Physical Sciences.

JIAS is the first fully fledged institute of advanced learning in Gauteng, South Africa’s political and economic heartland. Although rooted within UJ, and committed to achieving UJ’s institutional goals, JIAS collaborates with other institutions of higher learning throughout the country.

JIAS is a university-based institute for advanced study as opposed to free-standing institutes such as those in Princeton, Berlin, Radcliffe and Stellenbosch.

It is based in a dedicated facility in the suburb of Westdene, near the University of Johannesburg. It offers accommodation for Fellows and other visiting scholars, as well conference and workshop facilities.

More about Institutes for Advanced Study

Institutes for Advanced Study are independent academic institutions, established to promote scholarly thinking and research ‘for its own sake’, beyond the constraints of teaching and research at universities and other institutions of higher learning.

Institutes for Advanced Study are at the apex of the research and higher education ladder. They are designed to afford top quality researchers with an opportunity to focus entirely on their central calling in their respective fields, either individually or in collaborative enterprise.

The IAS in Princeton

The first Institute for Advanced Study was established in Princeton, New Jersey, in 1930. Funded by the philanthropist Louis Bamberger and his sister Caroline Bamberger Fuld, it was based on the vision of its founding director, the educational reformist Abraham Flexner. Past faculty members include Albert Einstein, who lived at the institute until his death in 1955. Today, it describes itself as ‘one of the world’s leading centres for theoretical research and intellectual inquiry’. According to its website, the Institute exists to ‘encourage and support curiosity-driven research in the sciences and humanities — the original, often speculative thinking that produces advances in knowledge that change the way we understand the world’.

Work at the Institute takes place in four schools: Historical Studies, Mathematics, Natural Sciences, and Social Science. A permanent Faculty of about 30 academics guide the work of the schools. Each year, the Institute awards about 200 fellowships to scholars from some 100 universities and research institutions throughout the world. Scholars affiliated with the Institute include 33 Nobel Laureates, and 41 out of 56 Fields Medallists.

The Institute is not formally linked to other educational institutions. However, it collaborates closely with Princeton University and other institutions in the area.

Other Institutes for Advanced Study

The IAS in Princeton is affiliated to a consortium known as Some Institutes for Advanced Study (SIAS), which also includes eight other institutes in the US, Europe and Israel.

The Consortium of Institutes of Advanced Studies comprises some 20 research institutes in Great Britain and Ireland. The name Institute for Advanced Study, along with the acronym IAS, is also used by various other independent institutions throughout the world.

More about the 2018 JIAS Writing Fellows

Pictures of and biographical notes about the 2018 Writing Fellows follow.


Dr Meng-Hsuan Chou is Nanyang Assistant Professor in the Public Policy and Global Affairs Programme at NTU Singapore, an Associate Fellow of the EU Centre Singapore, and Convenor of the ECPR Standing Group on the Politics of Higher Education, Research, and Innovation. Her research interests lie at the intersection of public policy, regionalism, and international relations. She is currently researching academic mobility to and from Singapore, how governments in Asia and Europe compete for talent in a globalised world, how scholarly networks are organised across time, and the emergence and evolution of higher education regionalisms. While at JIAS, she intends to write and revise four articles on defining ‘talent’, academic mobility to Singapore, a review of literature on scholarly mobility, and regionalism in higher education. She will also start work on a book on the political economy of knowledge with colleagues in Finland.

Dr David Huang Junsong is Assistant Dean: Research Strategy in the Office of Education Research of the National Institute of Education (NIE) in Singapore. He is also a research scientist at the Learning Sciences Lab, NIE. Dr Huang works on delayed instruction and analogical transfer, with current focuses on preparation for future transfer, i.e., preparing students for transferring what they know to novel non-isomorphic situations. His other research interest is workplace collaboration. He is Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Complexity in Leadership and Management (IJCLM), and serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Research Administration (JRA). While at JIAS, he intends to write a comprehensive review of the literature on learning and transfer, with a focus on learning by imitating, differentiating, inventing and problem-solving.

Dr Geoffrey Maiyoh is a Senior Lecturer and Postgraduate programme coordinator at the Department of Medical Biochemistry, School of Medicine, Moi University, Kenya. He completed his undergraduate training at Egerton University where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biochemistry in 1999. In 2007, he graduated with a doctoral degree in Molecular Biosciences and Bioengineering from the University of Hawaii, Honolulu, USA. His current research focuses on non-communicable diseases, including diabetes and cancer. His research has received recognition through various top awards, including a travel grant, and has been featured on various media sites, including the Honolulu Advertiser (the main newspaper in Hawaii),, the HADSA newsletter, and He has served on the editorial boards of and as a reviewer for various peer-reviewed journals. In 2015-2016, he led the development and implementation of the Master of Science in Medical Biochemistry curriculum in his department. He is among the most recent instrumental access equipment grant recipients from Seeding Labs, Boston, USA. He previously taught at the University of Eldoret, Mount Kenya University, and Kisii University. While at JIAS, he intends to continue writing a book about cancer in Kenya, including risk factors, pathogenesis, and feasible preventive measures.

Gerhard Maré

Gerhard (Gerry) Maré is emeritus professor through the University of KwaZulu-Natal, where he studied and worked in Sociology and Labour Studies. He retired in 2012, then as director of the Centre for Critical Research on Race and Identity, which he founded in 2006. His research interests have been mainly in ethnicity and race identities, with publications on nationalist politics and political violence. His book Declassified: Moving beyond the Dead End of Race was awarded a National Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences prize (monograph) in 2017. Until 2017, Gerhard was co-convener of a four-year project entitled ‘Effects of Race’ at the Stellenbosch Institute of Advanced Studies (STIAS). While at JIAS, he intends to explore the relevance of approaches and analyses adopted in the 1970s and 1980s to the post-1994 context, centred on the concepts of tradition, ethnicity, and nation, and how they relate to the historical context of KwaZulu-Natal. He intends to draw on existing work, press material, secondary texts, and theoretical writing to illuminate ethnicity, tradition and nation through the lives of Mangosuthu Buthelezi, Jacob Zuma, and King Goodwill Zwelithini.





Niq MhlongoNiq Mhlongo was born in in Soweto in 1973. He is the author of three novels: Dog Eat Dog (2004), After Tears (2007) and Way Back Home (2013). Dog Eat Dog was translated into Spanish in 2006 and was awarded the Mar de Letras prize. His first short story collection, Affluenza, was published in 2016 to great acclaim, and another will be published in 2018. While at JIAS, he intends to work on a novel venturing into themes of death and birth based on African philosophy, religion and culture.








Hans PienaarHans Pienaar writes novels, plays and poetry in Afrikaans and English while making a living as a journalist. He was a director of the anti-apartheid publisher Taurus, news editor of Vrye Weekblad, and reported for ten years on foreign affairs. Today he regularly writes think-pieces for Business Day and Litnet. He won the Cosaw Short Story Prize for ‘My Dog Hitler’, the Rapport Prize for ‘The Third War Against Mapoch’, and the national Pansa Prize for ‘Three Dozen Roses’. His latest play is ‘The Good Candidate’, and his latest novel My China. He is a former chairman of the Melville Poetry Festival. While at JIAS, he intends to work on a novel aimed at melding the concept of original sin with rugby, via the coming of age of a rugby player. Should time allow, he will also start working on a play that will be a modern rewrite of the Pied Piper legend.





Joel Quirk is a Professor of Politics at the University of the Witwatersrand. His research focuses on slavery and abolition, human mobility and human rights, global governance and the political economy of human rights activism, repairing historical wrongs, and the history and politics of sub-Saharan Africa. Recent works include The Anti-Slavery Project, Mobility Makes States, and Contemporary Slavery. Joel has also recently co-edited special issues on Repairing Historical Wrongs (Social & Legal Studies, 2012), Sampling Techniques in Johannesburg (Journal of Refugee Studies, 2012) and the Politics of Numbers (Review of International Studies, 2015). He is a current member of the International Scientific Committee of the UNESCO Slave Route Project, where he serves as rapporteur, and an editor for openDemocracy’s ‘Beyond Trafficking and Slavery’. While at JIAS, he intends to work on a book focusing on the politics, possibilities, and constraints associated with political activism surrounding slavery and human trafficking.

Kevin Riordan is Assistant Professor of English at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. His research interests include modernism, theatre, and world literature, and his recent articles have appeared in journals such as Modern Drama, Performance Research and American Studies. He is currently at work on his first book, a performance history of the around-the-world tour. In this project, he shows how individual travellers in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries produced and circulated a new sense of the global, an updated theatrum mundi that was unprecedentedly personal. Riordan is also a dramaturg and Resident Artist for the New York-based Theater Mitu. While at JIAS, he intends to work on his book about the modern ‘theatrum mundi’, essentially about how, from the mid-19th century onwards, travellers began to think about the world in a different way.

Amrita Shah is a journalist and writer. Well known for her pioneering investigations of the Mumbai underworld, she has worked for the Time-Life News Service, edited the features magazines Debonair and Elle India, and been a contributing editor with The Indian Express. She is the author of Hype, Hypocrisy & Television in Urban India (Vikas, 1997), Vikram Sarabhai – A Life (Penguin-Viking, 2007) and Ahmedabad: a City in the World (Bloomsbury, 2015). She is a fellow of the Fulbright, Homi Bhabha and New India Foundations, and a recipient of the 2017 Tejeshwar Singh Memorial Award for Excellence in Writing on the Urban from Sage. While at JIAS, she intends to continue researching and writing a book on ‘Passenger Indians’, Indian migrants who, unlike indentured labourers, paid their own fares to South Africa. Some – including her great-grandfather — were jailed during the Satyagraha or passive resistance campaign led by Mahatma Gandhi between 1906 and 1914.

Charlie Samuya Veric is a critic, poet, and curator interested in cultural themes in Philippine Studies and American Studies. His scholarship is published widely on both sides of the Pacific. He is also the author of the best-selling and acclaimed poetry collections Histories (2015) and Boyhood: A Long Lyric (2017). In 2016, he curated the landmark exhibition ‘Figuring Filipino Utopia’, which explored the development of modern art following the formal decolonization of the Philippines. The first Filipino to receive a PhD in American Studies from Yale, where his dissertation was accepted without revision, he teaches literature and cultural theory at Ateneo de Manila University. While at JIAS, he intends to continue working on a book entitled ‘Children of the Postcolony: Culture and Decolonization among Filipino Intellectuals in the Mid-20th Century’, which examines the emergence of a postcolonial history of ideas after the Philippines gained its independence from the United States in 1946.

Zukiswa Wanner is the author of four novels, two children’s books, a domestic satire, and a soon to be published literary travel memoir, Hardly Working. She has judged the Etisalat Prize for Literature (now 9Mobile), the Commonwealth Short Story Prize, and the Writivism Short Story Prizes. Wanner is a facilitator of the Sol Plaatje University Fiction workshop, has facilitated the FEMRITE and Writivism workshops, and has co-facilitated a Caine workshop. She also sits on the Advisory Board of the Ake Festival. While at JIAS, she intends to work on a novel spanning three generations, and set between the Anglo-Boer War and 1990 when the ANC and PAC were unbanned.


See the JIAS website at

For more information, or to make appointments to interview 2018 Writing Fellows, contact the JIAS Academic Manager, Reshmi Singh, at

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