CLS, in partnership with the National Research Foundation SARChI Chair in Security and Justice, will be hosting Joel Modiri for a Thought Leader Encounter entitled STEVE BIKO, CRITICAL RACE THEORY AND POST-1994 SOUTH AFRICAN JURISPRUDENCE.


Date:    Friday 15 March 2019

Time:   12H00 – 13:30

Venue: Moot Court (Level 5, Kramer Law Building, Middle Campus).


Please RSVP to for catering purposes by: Friday 8 March 2019.



The aim of the seminar is to explore the writings and philosophy of Black Consciousness intellectual Steve Biko and his contribution to the critical study of law, and post-1994 South African jurisprudence in particular. We will relate his thinking on the political and social condition of Black people under apartheid to the post-apartheid context through a close reading of his treatment of the concepts of race, identity and liberation.  Black Consciousness as a social and political philosophy provides a conceptual framework to diagnose, theorise and transform the existential and experiential reality of race and identity in unequal societies. Insofar as race and racism continue to shape relationships, institutions and subjectivities in South Africa and insofar as the legacies of the past still define and structure the socio-legal reality of South Africans in different ways, Black Consciousness provides instructive tools of analysis.  We shall situate Black Consciousness in relation to the central jurisprudential project of critical race theory, namely to expose the continuance and persistence of the racial order (namely, white supremacy).  The seminar will engage these questions at a theoretical level and will draw out three major themes, bridging the divide between socio-legal studies and critical jurisprudence:

  1. different ways in which to incorporate race into legal research as a central category of analysis;
  2. intersections and tensions between US-derived critical race theory concepts and Africanist liberation philosophy; and
  3. the value of expanding the archive of legal discourse through drawing on the struggles of liberation movements and activist intellectuals writing/thinking from outside of the traditional academy.


Joel M. Modiri holds a PhD in Legal Theory. He is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Jurisprudence, University of Pretoria where he teaches Introduction to Law and Legal Skills, Legal Philosophy and Law and Transformation and is also an editor of a leading public law journal, the South African Journal on Human Rights.  His research interests include critical race theory, critical pedagogy, critical theories of rights and constitutionalism as well as African Jurisprudence, Black Political Thought and Feminist Theory.   The central concern of his teaching and research relates to the development of a critical anti-racist post-conquest jurisprudence through which to contemplate possibilities for liberation, decolonisation and historical justice in South Africa and beyond.  This entails drawing on a number of intellectual traditions and opening space for new knowledges that could disclose alternative conceptions of law, constitutionalism, history, subjectivity, power, memory and politics. He is currently working on a book project on the thought of Black Consciousness leader and prophet-intellectual Steve Biko in the context of a critique of post-1994 law and society.

Fri, 15 Mar 2019 -
12:00 to 13:30