Write! – Project and Fellowship
To build the field of African law and society requires more than critical conversations. It requires that the work of African intellectuals be included in syllabi, be shared amongst young people eager to learn from African scholars, and be seen on the shelves of bookstores. The CLS Write! Project links the production of new knowledge with support for new knowledge producers. It does this by:
a) supporting outstanding public intellectuals to produce an academic output of their choosing (Time to Think. Time to Write.); and
b) supporting partners to scale up organisational research for an academic audience (Beyond the Case Study).
Time to Think. Time to Write.
It is often public intellectuals in South Africa who are at the foreground of pushing new insights into difficult socio-legal problems, whether local or global in nature. Many of these critical thinkers engage a wide audience on social media through which they may have a substantial influence on public discourse. They are those intellectuals whose threaded tweets one relishes, whose engagements are not limited to sound bites and about whom one thinks: “I wish I could hear more.” At CLS these are the intellectuals we have reached out to and brought into the academy through our Hub events, including the Thought Leader Encounters, With(Out) Law Conversations and the Law and Society in Africa seminar series, and said: “Talk about what interests you.” Now we want to take this a step further and say: “Write about what interests you.”
Time to Think. Time to Write is a Fellowship for African public intellectuals some of whom have (initially) participated in CLS Hub events. The funding aims to buy out three months of the recipient’s time, scheduled non-consecutively over a six-month period (our ambition is to offer more!). During this time our Fellows work solely on an agreed upon writing project of their choice, which makes a scholarly contribution to new knowledge, regardless of genre, and might include fiction, non-fiction, or poetry.
Beyond the Case Study
It is said that Africa provides the case studies, while theory is built in the global North. This arm of the Write! Project contributes to the building of socio-legal theory, by working with our civil society partners in translating organisational research into scholarly contributions to knowledge. It does this by providing mentorship and supporting a period of writing time (a mini sabbatical), where this is not provided for in organizational budgets.