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The political economy of social change in South Africa

Inaugural conference of the Harold Wolpe Memorial Trust
1-2 April 1997, University of the Western Cape

4Conference programme (pdf 22kb)
4Conference papers

Conference overview

The inaugural conference of the Harold Wolpe Memorial Trust was hosted in association with the Education Policy Unit at the University of the Western Cape).

The aims of the inaugural conference included:

  • To determine whether the old inequalities of race, class and gender were being perpetuated in the post-apartheid South African political economy
  • To determine whether policies had begun to affect a social transformation process, and
  • To determine what questions needed to be addressed to further the social transformation process.

The conference featured a number of papers on the South African economy, political processes, and the State (see Conference programme).

The event was attended by over 130 representatives from government, political parties, academia, trade unions, and student populations. The conference initiated stimulating intellectual debate and critical analysis of the transformation process, and was successful in bridging the gap between different interest groups and sectors.

The conference also highlighted the need for continued public debate on socio-economic and political issues - a niche the Trust was in a position to fill.

The inaugural conference was funded by the following organisations:

  • Swedish International Development Agency
  • Interfund
  • Human Science Research Council
  • The British Council
  • Africa Educational Trust
  • University of the Western Cape


AnnMarie Wolpe

Jakes Gerwel

Saleem Badat

Conference papers

The following papers can be downloaded:

The engaged intellectual and the struggle for a democratic South Africa
Dan O'Meara (pdf 98kb)

4Paper (pdf 98kb)

Thinking theoretically? Afrikaner nationalism and the comparative theory of the politics of identity
Dan O'Meara (pdf 143kb)

4Paper (pdf 143kb)

The following papers are available in hard copy. Contact the Trust to request a copy.

Language and the national question
Dr Neville Alexander

The relevance of Russian and Chinese models of transition for Africa
Prof Michael Burawoy

Justice and reconciliation: Making sense of the African experience
Prof Mahmood Mamdani

The State and the national question
Dr Blade Nzimande

Social change in the South African countryside. Land and production, poverty and power Prof Henry Bernstein

Knowledge, power and the university intellectual: The case for critical engagement
Prof Eddie Webster

Critical perspectives on women and feminism in South Africa
Dr Sheila Meintjies

Consolidating democracy: The state and the transition from apartheid
Dr Stephen Gelb

Race and gender relations in the United States: Implications for the 21st century
Dr Gail Thomas

Equity and development in education
Prof Wally Morrow