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BRICS-HSRC Seminar: Ubuntu, ‘science and society’ and the Chinese civilization

15 October 2013

Date: 15 October 2013, 12.30


  • Jeffrey Sehume, Senior Researcher; Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflection (MISTRA)
  • Professor Thaddeus Metz, Department of Philosophy, University of Johannesburg (UJ)
  • Dr Hester du Plessis, Senior Research Specialist; Science Communication. Research use and Impact Assessment (RIA), Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC)


One of the themes for promoting the sharing of expertise amongst BRICS falls under the theme: ‘Sharing of indigenous and development knowledge and innovation’. With South Africa adopting knowledge production for economic growth it becomes necessary to redefine uneven power relations that distort content and distribution of knowledge. Knowledge production is a shared exercise between the local and the universal and, though an idea may have a local origin, its inspiration is sometimes external. BRICS provides the ideal platform for such epistemological explorations.

Bringing together the backgrounds of philosophy and science communication, the presenters will explore the seemingly paradoxical perspectives between the philosophy of Ubuntu, the paradigm of ‘science and society’ and the philosophy behind the Chinese civilisation. It will be proposed that convergences between these approaches will strengthen our understanding of current civilizational challenges.

These perspectives indicate the initial steps taken by the research team of the MISTRA project: The philosophy of Chinese civilization: the rise and decline and rise of civilizations. The MISTRA project follows three thematic areas: the philosophy and value system of China from the Han Dynasty to Mao and the Cultural Revolution, the socio-economic development models post-Mao Zedong, and the history of Sino-Africa relations from first contact (around 1400 AD) to the present.

This broad framework is designed to take a long scale view of Sino-African relations from a transdisciplinary perspective with the intention of exploring how historical conditions may have influenced the development of contemporary values and epistemologies. At the same time African epistemologies and values (in all their complexity and transformative stages) are examined against the broader backdrop of Ubuntu, indigenous knowledge systems and socio-political transformations.

Kindly RSVP by 12 October 2013

This seminar may be attended via video conference in Pretoria, Cape Town and KwaZulu-Natal. Details as below.

Cape Town: HSRC, 12th Floor, Plein Park Building (Opposite Revenue Office), Plein Street, Cape Town. Contact Jean Witten, Tel (021) 4668004, Fax (021) 461 0299, or

Durban: First floor HSRC board room, 750 Francois Road, Ntuthuko Junction, Pods 5 and 6, Cato Manor, Contact Ridhwaan Khan, Tel (031) 242 5400, cell: 083 788 2786 or

Pretoria: HSRC Video Conference, 1st floor HSRC Library Human Sciences Research Council, 134 Pretorius Street, Pretoria. Arlene Grossberg, Tel: (012) 302 2811, e-mail: