Speaker: Chris Desmond
Date: Wednesday 9 May 2018
Time: 13h00 – 14h00
Venue: CCS Seminar Room A726, Level 7, Shepstone, Howard College, UKZN
The seminar will outline Liberation Studies, an emerging approach to understanding and addressing social challenges in South Africa. Liberation Studies builds on the concept of recognition and argues that misrecognition, often manifested in dehumanising treatment and environments, limits people’s freedom. Dehumanising treatment and environments are physically (epigenetic, neurological development, injury etc.) and psychologically (negative social norms, reduced self-efficacy etc.) internalised. Internalisation constrains the capacity of individuals to pursue the life they have reason to value. The implications are that interventions which seek to address only one aspect of peoples’ lives (say health or education) or only external constraints (say income poverty) may be limited in their success. It argues for a move towards holistic interventions, which see the whole person, with their multiple interacting needs. Put another way, imagine Franz Fanon, Steve Biko, Nancy Fraser, Amartya Sen, Rick Turner sit down for drinks with a cognitive psychologist, a physiologist and a neurologist to discuss inequality in South Africa, and it gets messy.
Chris Desmond is an economist focused on human development and the identification of holistic approaches to social intervention. Chris is the Director of the newly established Centre for Liberation Studies. The Centre is intended to provide structure for trans-disciplinary research on social policy. In addition to the Centre directorship, Dr Desmond is a Senior Economist at the DST-NRF Centre of Excellence in Human Development at Wits and a Research Associate at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston. Previously, Chris was a Research Director at the HSRC, in the Human and Social Development research program, and a Research Associate at both the FXB Centre for Health and Human Rights, Harvard University, and the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School. Chris trained as an economist at UKZN and received his PhD in Development Studies from the London School of Economics.