Architecture, Urbanism and the Humanities

Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

The Chair in Critical Architecture and Urbanism at the University of the Witwatersrand is an initiative of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to facilitate scholarly focus on the city during the present condition of global urban growth. Its first incumbent is Professor Noëleen Murray who is also Director of the Wits City Institute, and ideally placed to make a significant contribution to dialogue and collaboration located at the intersection of research in the humanities, architecture, and urbanism.

Re-Centring AfroAsia

Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

Re-Centering AfroAsia: Musical and Human Migrations in the Pre-Colonial Period 700-1500AD is a multi-pronged research, mapping, and archiving project supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The project aims to revolutionise Humanities research in South Africa and to create an AfroAsian community of scholarship. It is co-convened by the Wits City Institute in collaboration with the Wits School of Arts and the Department of Sociology at the University of Cape Town.

The New ‘South’: Rand Mines Properties Project

National Research Foundation

Wits City Institute Director Noëleen Murray leads The New South, the Institute’s flagship project probing the historical silences and spatial legacies of Rand Mines Properties’ ambitious but failed 1986 urban design and development scheme in which seminal figures in the South African architecture and planning disciplines were invited, at the height of apartheid, to re-imagine urban spaces on disused mining land in the southern suburbs of Johannesburg.


A Trans-Disciplinary Resource for Johannesburg

JoziQuest, A Trans-Disciplinary Resource for Johannesburg, is a project emerging from the Secret Affinities workshop as a way to begin mapping sites in Johannesburg. JoziQuest is led by Wits City Institute Postdoctoral Fellow Jill Weintroub along with a team of digital and graphic designers and a photographer. Weintroub is supported by a Life in the City Postdoctoral Fellowship through the Wits School of Governance. The pilot phase of the project aims to create an imaginative scholarly and visually rich mapping of sites in urban Johannesburg that are threaded together through their relation to the architect Hermann Kallenbach, who was the close friend and soulmate of Mohandas Gandhi during his sojourn in Johannesburg during the opening decades of the twentieth century.

Secret Affinities

African Critical Inquiry Programme

Secret Affinities is a project of the Wits City Institute arising from the workshop ‘Secret Affinities, A workshop in critical reading and an interrogation of the city in Africa via Walter Benjamin’s Das Passagen-Werk’. The workshop is an annual project supported by the African Critical Inquiry Programme through the Ivan Karp and Corinne Kratz Foundation based at the Laney Graduate School, Emory University. The 2017 workshop held at Satyagraha House, Johannesburg, in March 2017, was jointly convened by the Wits City Institute in collaboration with the Wits School of Arts.