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The Human Sciences Research Council and Penguin Non-fiction invite you to a discussion of the recently-published

Date: 23 June 2016         

Time: 12:00 – 13:00

VCR – Durban, Pretoria and Cape Town

Chair: Prof.  Monde Makiwane, HSD, HSRC

Presenter: Seán Morrow

Respondent: Prof. Crain Soudien, CEO, HSRC

The life of Monica Wilson is a story of groundbreaking scholarship, passionate creativity and personal tragedy during South Africa’s bitter and divided twentieth century. As a young anthropologist in the 1930s, Monica immersed herself in the lives, work and beliefs of African communities in southern and East Africa, while carefully observing the effects of historical change. At the core of Monica’s existence was her intellectual collaboration and intense personal relationship with her husband, the brilliant but clinically depressive Godfrey Wilson, who took his own life in 1944.

After Godfrey’s death, Monica raised their two children and built a career as a leading academic, at Fort Hare, Rhodes University College and the University of Cape Town. In a political environment where black academics were under constant threat and ideas were censored, she outspokenly advocated racial equality and freedom of speech, her publications emphasising a common South African identity and implicitly challenging apartheid ‘separate development’. This fascinating biography moves between the Eastern Cape, Cambridge, Tanganyika, Nyasaland, Northern Rhodesia and Cape Town. It explores the relationship between anthropology and history, and the tensions between liberalism, Christianity, Marxism and apartheid. Drawing on the letters and diaries left by Monica and Godfrey Wilson, this is a powerful story about politics, race, war, faith, love and loss.

Copies of the book will be available for purchase before and after the seminar.

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 22 June 2016

Cape Town : HSRC, 12th Floor, Plein Park Building (Opposite Revenue Office), Plein 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 , 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, e-mail:

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