This SARChI research programme, launched in January 2016, is convened by Prof Steven Robins as Interim Research Leader. 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 & Innovation (DSI), 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)

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On 22 February, the 2023 Honours students associated with the chair will present on their thesis.

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Postgraduate student opportunities

NRF postgraduate bursaries can be linked to SARChI Chairs. The call for applications for 2025 are not yet open. For general information on bursary opportunities and how to apply click on ‘view more’ below

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2024 Induction Fieldtrip

In early February, our team embarked on the annual induction fieldtrip. We visited Sutherland, Canarvon, Prieska, Van Wyksvlei, Williston and Calvinia. Over the course of the trip many of our new and older members identified possible research topics. A highlight was Prof. Nigel Penn, giving a seminar on top of the Hantamberg a site of historic significance.

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