News & events


Freedom’s Shame: Social restitution and the restoring of personhood

25 April 2017
12:30 - 14:00



Prof. Sharlene Swartz, Human and Social Development, Human Sciences Research Council

25 April 2017 

Time:  12h30 – 14h00 

Venues: Pretoria, Durban, Cape Town

This seminar addresses two key features of the discourse around restitution for past injustices, that of locating selves in these conversations about the past and interrogating the aim of restitution – in the light of current inequalities. Drawing on her recently published book, Another Country: Everyday social restitution, Prof Swartz offers the concept of ‘social restitution’ – understood as the actions and attitudes that everyday people can undertake in dialogue with each other to ‘make things good again’, and describes new language beyond the labels of victims and perpetrators to talk about our role in the past including beneficiary, ostrich and resister. She describes how restoring personhood is a key aim to achieve social cohesion and to deal with the shame of an unaddressed past, including blame-shifting.

Sharlene Swartz is a Research Director at the Human Sciences Research Council in South Africa and an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Cape Town. She holds undergraduate degrees from the University of the Witwatersrand and the University of Zululand in South Africa; a Master’s degree from Harvard University and a PhD from the University of Cambridge. Her expertise and current research centres on youth development in adverse contexts, interpersonal and communal notions of restitution, emancipatory qualitative research methods, and the effects of race on educational outcomes. She is also the author of Ikasi: the moral ecology of South Africa’s township youth (2009); Teenage Tata: Voices of Young Fathers in South Africa (2009); and Youth citizenship and the politics of belonging (2013); She is the International Sociological Association’s vice President for Africa and the Middle East for Sociology of Youth and is also currently the chair of the Restitution Foundation in South Africa.

The HSRC seminar series is funded by the Department of Science and Technology (DST). The views and opinions expressed therein  as well as findings and statements of the seminar series do not necessarily represent the views of DST.

Kindly RSVP by 24 April  2017

Cape Town : HSRC, 116-118 Merchant House, Buitengracht Street, Cape Town. Contact: Carmen August ,Tel (021) 4668004, Fax (021) 461 0299 or e-mail:;

Durban :  The Atrium, 5th Floor, 430 Peter Mokaba Ridge, Berea, 4001 , Contact: Ridhwaan Khan, Tel (031) 242 5400, cell: 083 788 2786 or email: , or Hlengiwe Zulu at e-mail

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