The Human Economy Programme started in 2011 with the goal of bringing back human concerns into economic studies. To date the programme has recruited a large number of doctoral students and postdoctoral fellows from around the world. The programme is interdisciplinary, and its current participants have backgrounds in Sociology, History, Anthropology, Political Science, Development Studies, and Economics. Since July 2013 the programme is housed in the Centre for the Advancement of Scholarship at the University of Pretoria.
Through our case studies, we examine how people insert themselves into economic life. What people practically do has often been obscured, marginalised or repressed by dominant economic ideologies that privilege the market. We are interested in the ways people engage with economy and respond to institutional forms that perpetuate structures of inequality - creating, challenging, or even trying to ignore them. The human economy is conceived of as being made and remade by people themselves, being based on a holistic conception of human needs and with the interests of humanity as a whole in mind.
The aims of the programme are both academic and practical. We are building a body of research pertaining to the issue of nurturing and expanding economic democracy, particularly in Africa and the global South, and wish to communicate these findings accessibly to a wider public in order to support popular movements aimed at achieving economic democracy.
Thus far, the programme's postdoctoral fellows have published numerous articles based on their individual research. They have also contributed to a special issue published in 2013 in a South African journal, and two collective volumes to be published in 2014 and 2015 as part of the Human Economy Series by Berghahn Books. In August 2013 the programme hosted an international conference on Economy and Democracy at the University of Pretoria.
The Human Economy Conference 2013:
Economy and Democracy
From 22 to 24 August 2013 the University of Pretoria hosted the 2013 conference of the Human Economy programme. The conference was opened on 22 August by a keynote address by Arjun Appadurai, Goddard Professor of Media, Culture and Communication at the New York University on “The coming escape of finance from economy”.
In the following two days members and associates of the Human Economy programme discussed their state of research on “economy and democracy” with international and South African guests.
Keith Hart and John Sharp , co-directors of the Human Economy programme, were proud to be able to welcome Gustaaf Houtman (Royal Anthropological Institute), Francesco Boldizzoni (Unversity of Torino), Horacio Ortiz (Centre for the Sociology of Innovations, Paris), Ward Anseeuw (UP), Andries Bezuidenhout (UP), Patience Kabamba (Marymount Manhattan College), Catherine Alexander (University of Durham), Erik Bähre (University of Leiden), Bill Freund (University of KwaZulu Natal), Vishnu Padayachee (Rhodes University), Lorenzo Fioramonti (UP), Deborah James (London School of Economics), Jane Guyer (John Hopkins University), Gustav Peebles (The New School University), Tim Jenkin (Community Exchange System South Africa), Detlev Krige (UP), Deborah Posel (University of Cape Town), Jackie Dugard (Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa), Ulrike Kistner (UP), Eric Worby (University of Witwatersrand), Thapelo Tselapedi (Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa), Peter Vale (University of Johannesburg), Richard Ballard (University of KwaZulu Natal) and Sharad Chari (University of Witwatersrand), among others.
Johan Thom, a prolific artist who has received numerous awards and is currently a lecturer in the University of Pretoria's Department of Fine Arts, will soon receive his PhD from the University College of London (UCL) through the Slade School of Art. Thom was awarded a Commonwealth Scholarship by the Canon Collins Trust in 2008 and returned to South Africa last year, when he joined the staff at his alma mater as the coordinator for postgraduate students.
Is GDP really helping us measure the state of our economy? Or is it a misleading indicator that contributes to wrong policy decisions, especially at a time of growing unrest and dissatisfaction with the transformation of the economy? Read UP Political Sciences Professor Lorenzo Fioramonti in Business Day.
Fatima Cassim, who heads the Division of Information Design in the Department of Visual Arts in the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Pretoria, sees increasing potential for design to address some of the complex social, environmental and political problems that society faces. She believes, in particular, that design thinking as a problem-solving methodology can help to envision and enable new futures and mobilise citizens to take action in more meaningful ways. In keeping with this viewpoint, she focuses on design activism and design citizenship in her doctoral thesis at UP.