Seminar: ‘From Prohibited Immigrants to Citizens: The Origins of Citizenship and Nationality in South Africa’

Start date: Thursday, 2 November 2017, 16:15

End date: Thursday, 2 November 2017, 17:30

Location: Room 2.01

Governance, Law and Social Justice Seminar

Jonathan Klaaren

Jonathan Klaaren, Professor of Law, University of the Witwatersrand School of Law and Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research, will give a seminar at ISS on 2 November 2017.

DiscussantProfessor Mohaned Salih


Jonathan Klaaren blends legal and social history in an account of early conceptions of South African citizenship – the unified citizenship before apartheid tore it apart.  He argues that the notion comes out of the period 1897 to 1937, with legislation that sought to regulate the mobility of ‘prohibited immigrants’, and of three population groups: African, Asian and European.

Further, he makes the case that the regulation and administration of immigrants from the Indian sub-continent, in particular, provided the basis for the vision of a unified, although structurally unequal, South African population.

This book offers a compelling reminder of the interconnections between Asian and African mobility and sketches the groundwork for rethinking legal cultures in South Africa including the concept of the rule of law.

About the speaker

Professor Jonathan Klaaren teaches, researches, and writes in the areas of human rights, law, and sociology, having published over forty peer-reviewed publications and co-edited or (co-) written several books, the most recent being From Prohibited Immigrants to Citizens: origins of citizenship and nationality in South Africa (2017, University of Cape Town Press).

His research includes interdisciplinary work on law, culture and society and his current interests are on the legal profession, regulation and human rights, transparency, and socio-legal studies in Africa.

Jonathan has served on a number of editorial committees and boards including the South African Journal on Human RightsLaw & Society Review and Law & Policy. He holds a Bachelor of Arts (BA) from Harvard University, a Bachelors in Law (LLB) from the University of the Witwatersrand, a Doctor of Law (JD) from Columbia University School of Law, a Masters Degree (MA) in Religious Studies and a PhD in Sociology from Yale University.

He joined Wits School of Law in 1993 and was appointed a Full Professor in 2002; among other roles he has served as Director of the Mandela Institute from 2005 to 2007 and Dean (Head of School) from 2010 to 2013 and currently holds a joint appointment at the Wits School of Law and the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research (WiSER), the latter of which he was as a founding staff member in 2001-2002.

He holds various ancillary functions, including as a Board Member of the Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa and as an adjunct Judge in the High Court of South Africa.

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