This SARChI research programme, launched in January 2016, is convened by Prof Cherryl Walker as Research Chair. Its central concern is to deepen our understanding of the complex web of social and environmental dynamics within which commitments to sustainable development must operate, with the arid Karoo region of South Africa as its primary research site.

The Karoo is a compelling site through which to explore these issues, given its particular history, environment and contemporary social challenges. Adding to this mix are several globally networked developments that are promising major benefits locally and nationally, but also reframing established relationships to land, environment and place. These include the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) radio telescope, possible shale-gas mining (‘fracking’), and various renewable energy and conservation initiatives.

The programme is organised around a set of individual, core-team and collaborative research projects. The commitment is to research that is empirically grounded, theoretically informed and alert to the importance of cross-disciplinary and comparative work. The Research Chair is based in the Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology. The Research Chair is funded by the Department of Science & Technology (DST), administered by the National Research Foundation (NRF) and based in the Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology at Stellenbosch University.

Current Research Chair activities

The Cosmopolitan Karoo Research Forum (CKRF)

Check out the next meeting of the Cosmopolitan Karoo Research Forum (CKRF).

22 March: Fieldwork and conference report backs including presentations by Davide Chinigò & Cherryl Walker on the SKA and development in the Karoo.

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Postgraduate student opportunities

Our postgraduate students are core to the research programme. A limited number of bursaries are offered every year to qualified and motivated social science students. Check out the available opportunities here.

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SAAO history symposium 7-8 March 2018

Cherryl Walker, Davide Chinigò and Zuki Zantsi are attending the South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO) symposium on the history of astronomy in South Africa which is being held at the Observatory in Cape Town.

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