Top DHHS graduate lands scholarship and publishes monograph

Posted on February 22, 2021

Elize Soer, a graduate from the Department of Historical and Heritage Studies (DHHS), recently landed a scholarship to complete a multidisciplinary PhD at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies in Cologne, Germany. 

Elize completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Pretoria in Political Science and International Relations, majoring in Political Science, International Relations, History and French Literature.

Throughout her undergraduate studies she won awards for the best performance in African History, best performance in History at the third year level and best performance in International Relations at the third year level. Thereafter she completed a dual honours degree in History and International Political Economy. Elize received the degree cum laude and won awards for the best research report in History at honours level, the best performance in History overall at honours level and the best honours student presentation at the Research Proposal Colloquium in 2018. 

Elize worked in the DHHS as a tutor and then assistant lecturer while she completed her Masters’ degree in History under the supervision of Dr Ian Macqueen. She received her Masters’ cum laude with a dissertation entitled ‘Stuck in the Past: A continuum of colonisation in Iraq’. 

Subsequently, Elize worked with the great team at the Centre for Sexualities, Aids and Gender (CSA&G) at the University of Pretoria. During her time at the CSA&G, she completed a monograph entitled New Chapters, Old Stories: Developmental Narratives Sustaining Apartheid(s)

By adopting John Tosh’s ‘thinking with history’ approach, the monograph emphasises the temporality of international developmental narratives. The monograph argues that the contemporary narrative of ‘sustainable development’ has a much longer colonial history. Just as it was used to justify colonial expeditions throughout the twentieth century, Soer argues that 'sustainable development' helps to perpetuate colonial relations today.

The policies that have stemmed from this narrative have been vastly inadequate to deal with the challenges that climate change brings. Within a system that benefits the Global North to the detriment of the Global South, both climate change and the consequences of the current policies that are formulated to address it, are likely to have dire consequences for the Global South. 

Elize looks forward to the rest of her studies at the Max Planck Institute where she will continue to focus on temporality, but will now turn her gaze towards the future.

Under the supervision of Jens Beckert, she will attempt to write a 'sociological history of the future' by investigating the role that 'imagined futures' played in South African history since 1980. 

Published by Ian Macqueen

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