The Ruth First fellowship is a prestigious award made by the University of Witwatersrand that enables journalists, writers, researchers, film makers or photographers to pursue in-depth projects that can be presented in ways to influence thinking, discussion and debate in South Africa. Previous Fellows include Pregs Govender, Pumla Dineo Gqola, Leonie Joubert, Hilary Joffe, Henk Roussouw, Santu Mofokeng, Alon Skuy, Maggie Davey, Jacob Dlamini, Crystal Orderson, Christa Kuljian, Kally Forest, Eusebius McKaiser, Salim Fakir, Panashe Chigumadzi and Sisonke Msimang.
Our goal is to support a new generation of public intellectuals capable of immersing themselves deeply in the most pressing issues and ideas of the day, engage in original research and to tell great stories – presenting their work in ways that can engage a new generation of audiences eager to be confronted with new information and new ideas in forms that are accessible and provoking.
Ruth First was a journalist, activist, researcher and intellectual. In her twenties, she wrote for and edited some of the most radical newspapers of her day, covering stories of slavery, workers movements and land. Later she became a teacher and researcher writing on the lives of working miners, on feminism and on political theory. She was assassinated in exile by the apartheid government while running a research institute in newly liberated Mozambique.
The fellowship is intended to allow Fellows to pursue an in-depth project of original research. It should be groundbreaking and in keeping with the tradition of Ruth First’s politically and socially relevant research and journalism. In addition to financial support, the Fellowship program will provide mentorship and feedback aimed at developing the Fellows’ understanding of their research, and deepening their skills in communicating their research to audiences. We welcome applications from writers, journalists, film makers, photographers, and researchers.
For 2016, our theme is “Violence and Rage”. We live in a violent society. Physical violence is endemic. And rage is being expressed in response to institutional violence against the poor and the marginalised. What are the stories to be told about violence and rage in South Africa today? What can these stories tell us about how to change our society? And how can they be told so that they intervene in the discussions that form our public debate?
Fellows will receive a monthly stipend and research costs. They must be resident in South Africa. They will be expected to devote a substantial amount of time (at least 50%) between May and August 2016 to the Fellowship.
They will be expected to present their work at the annual Ruth First Memorial Lecture in August and to submit it for publication in appropriate forums.
Applicants should submit their CV, a project proposal (of no more than two pages) and a motivation letter (one page) by 22 April 2016 to the Ruth First Committee at
firstname.lastname@example.org Shortlisted candidates will be required to make themselves available for interview shortly thereafter.