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Faculty of Law houses one of most influential young South Africans - Dr Joel Malesela Modiri

Posted on March 25, 2019

The Faculty of Law at the University of Pretoria is proud to announce that Senior Lecturer Dr Joel Malesela Modiri in its Department of Jurisprudence is one of the top 50 most influential young South Africans in the country.  Dr Modiri ranked sixth in the category Personal Development and Academia. 

According to Avance Media, this year’s list features a record of 50 females and 50 males who have made remarkable contributions towards their respective fields which has extended impact to other young people across South Africa and beyond. 

Dr Modiri was also recognised by the 2018 Mail & Guardian 200 Young South Africans in the category Justice and Law. 

In 2018, as winner of the JUTA legal education paper, Joel was invited to present aspects of his award-winning research paper at Columbia University’s Institute for Research in African-American Studies in New York in November 2018, and spoke on his research again at UCLA Law School during February 2019.  The paper deals with the intersection of a sociology of legal knowledge, and Black radical political thought and critical race theory. His talk at Columbia University was titled ‘Race, Conquest and the Whiteness of the South African Academy: Experiments in "Azanian" Critique”’.

Joel holds the degrees LLB cum laude (Pret) and PhD (Pret). His PhD thesis, completed at age 26, is titled “The Jurisprudence of Steve Biko: A Study in Race, Law and Power in the ‘Afterlife’ of Colonial-apartheid”.  Dr Modiri has published almost 20 articles to date and mainly teaches in the field of Jurisprudence and Legal Philosophy. He has convened and taught a number of law subjects such as Social Justice and Human Rights, African Human Rights, Research Methodology, Legal Problems of HIV & AIDS, Law and Transformation. He has also taught portions of courses in Philosophy, Political Science, Sociology and Public Policy presented by the Faculty of Humanities.

Joel’s main research focus areas are Critical Race Theory, African Jurisprudence, Law and Identity, Feminist Political Philosophy, Black Political Thought, Legal Education and Critical Pedagogy as well as Critical Theories of Human Rights and Constitutionalism.  The central concern of his teaching and research relates to the development of a critical anti-racist post-conquest jurisprudence through which to contemplate possibilities for liberation, decolonisation and historical justice in South Africa and beyond.

He is an editor of the South African Journal on Human Rights and has been a Faculty member of Harvard Law School’s Institute for Global Law and Policy Africa Regional Workshop held in Cape Town.  He has also held a Visiting Fellowship at the Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS), University of the Witwatersrand and was recently selected as an Inaugural Fellow in the Atlantic Fellowship for Racial Equity Programme (2018 to 2019) hosted by Columbia University and the Nelson Mandela foundation. He is also a member of the Section 11 Committee on Equality at the South African Human Rights Commission.

- Author Elzet Hurter

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