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About the Institutional Research Theme


The University of Pretoria Capital Cities Institutional Research Theme (IRT) is:


             A strategic opportunity to harness existing research expertise and to position the University at the centre of a significant effort to address the global challenge for cities to become more creative, productive, liveable and sustainable, specifically by ‘bringing together humanities to activities in law, architecture, and related fields - each of which has much to contribute to meaningful urban research but none of which is alone able to resolve tangled city problems;

             An opportunity to improve the University’s research productivity and its impact, internationally as well as in the location where the University operates – the City of Tshwane – helping the University of Pretoria to be an internationally recognised yet locally relevant institution;

             A node around which postgraduate training and postdoctoral support can be organised; and through which concrete collaboration and exchange can be built with institutions in South Africa and internationally;

             An opportunity to generate new knowledge and ideas which would be crucial for the rejuvenation of disciplines coalescing around “the urban question”.

The University has already made significant investment in the CCIRT and its initial activities have also been supported through a portion of an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grant to the University in support of the Faculty of Humanities. 

Further funding is being sought from local and international corporate and foundation donors.

The CCIRT contributes to the University’s strategy of having “a positive impact on its immediate and broader communities and environments, and [being and remaining] a hub of knowledge production that speaks to the global academic community”.

The director of the CCIRT, with effect from January 2014, is Professor Alan Mabin reporting to the Vice-Chancellor and Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research, and the Dean of Humanities.



Four initial themes guided the CCIRT in 2013:

Cities represented: Arts and culture

Cities lived: Movements, exchanges, memories and histories of the present     

Cities remapped: Industry, power and linkages

Cities revisioned: Violence, dignity and interventions

In 2013 and 2014 the CCIRT programme facilitated or contributed to the following activities:

Capital Cities Conversations – public events featuring scholars, the Mayor, media personalities and citizens.

Research Walks in the City and public events around reusing spaces in the inner city, particularly for youth and arts

A first Capital Cities research conference, the beginnings of a new seminar series on cities, across disciplines, participation in conferences on several continents

Public lectures featuring prominent scholars of cities

Collaboration with the City of Tshwane on joint research on informal economic spaces
Exhibitions in Pretoria and in Antwerp  - ‘Metromusings’ and ‘Nomad Bodies’

'In/Imprint', a workshop on past and present print, reading and publishing in Pretoria

Developing projects include: 

Exchanging ideas, experience and expertise on museums of the city, for which funding is being sought

Contesting urban metabolisms, research project with Humboldt University, Berlin and University of Western Cape, for which project preparation funding has been secured

Urban political ecology in African cities workshops – supported by the CCIRT and in collaboration with the Situated Urban Political Ecology Platform involving several universities and funders

Tshwane – towards a resilient city, including appointment of a post doctoral fellow through University funding with city support

City of embassies – exploring the meaning, role and potentials of over 100 foreign missions in the City of Tshwane and diplomatic effects in other capitals

Capitals of Freedom, a potential collaboration with the University of Amsterdam under discussion

Comparative study of Abuja and Tshwane/Pretoria, with DfID support

 Comparative study of youth, culture and change in Pretoria/Tshwane and Brasília, in collaboration with the Embassy of Brasil

Space, justice and belonging – law and social justice in the city – a developing project with Universidade Federale de Rio de Janeiro and others with a view to engaging with the Ford Foundation Just City programme.


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Last edited by Chane Rama DahyaEdit