Ari Sitas

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Biographical information

First name: 
Ari
Last name: 
Sitas
Date of birth: 
1952
Location of birth: 
Limassol, Cyprus

Ari Sitas (b.1952) is a creative socialist thinker, an activist and one of the key intellectuals of the post 1980s generation in South Africa. 

He is a professor and the head of the Sociology Department at UCT, a post he took over in 2009. He also chairs the board of the National Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences, an institution that was promulgated after his and Sarah Mosoetsa's pioneering work in creating a Charter for the fields of study in 2011.     

Besides a remarkable academic career he has been a distinguished poet, writer and dramatist. His selected poems have just been published by Deep South under the title "Rough Music". His audacious, "Around the World in 80 Days-the India Section" is about to be published by UNISA Press. His poems have been translated into Zulu, French, German, Greek, Turkish, Urdu and Hindi and many have been set to music.

Before his appointment as a professor at UCT he had spent 27 years in Durban where he, his colleagues and collaborators were key to the anti-apartheid and transformation processes which have shifted society from an authoritarian colonial enclave into a democratic and radical space. Such work in cultural, community, cooperative and workplace contexts still resonates as a cultural renaissance. So has the work he and others put in place to move the province from conflict to civility.

Sitas grew up in colonial Cyprus during the island's independence struggles and bi-communal strife and matured, in Johannesburg where he received his undergraduate and post-graduate education at Wits. He received his PhD in 1984 under the supervision of Eddie and David Webster.

Any e-search has his name well-correlated with the founding of the workers' and people's theatre movements, FOSATU, COSATU, COSAW, Natal Culture Congress, Culture and Working Life Projject, Youth Unemployment Projects, the RDP, ANC, KZN Economic Council, Chris Hani Institute, African Renaissance Development Trust and a plethora of academic leadership positions.

He is increasingly seen as a significant "southern theorist" and works actively with African, Latin American and Asian networks to establish in his own words a new knowledge commons which is sensitive to all nodal points of this shrinking planet. He is also a South African representative on the BRICS Think Tanks Council.   

Last updated : 12-Jun-2017

This article was produced for South African History Online on 19-Sep-2016

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