Rights Discourses, Legal Pluralism, and Poverty in South Africa: Transformative Constitutionalism and the Purported Decolonization of South African Law

12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
WCC 2004

Join the Human Rights Program for a talk by Dr. Sindiso Mnisi Weeks, Assistant Professor at the School for Global Inclusion and Social Development at the University of Massachusetts Boston. Professor Mnisi Weeks will discuss her work examining the “empowerment / dis-empowerment paradox of rights discourses” in South Africa—the most unequal country in the world. Her work examines how, in this context of extreme inequality, the legal concepts of rights, security, and justice are interpreted by those who are socially, economically, and politically excluded, in comparison to those who form part of the dominant legal culture.

Co-Sponsored by the Harvard Center for African Studies, the Harvard African Law Association, HLS Advocates for Human Rights, Harvard Human Rights Journal, and the Institute for Global Law & Policy. Lunch will be served.

Sindiso Mnisi Weeks is Assistant Professor, Public Policy of Excluded Populations at the School for Global Inclusion and Social Development at UMass Boston. She has served as a senior researcher in the Centre for Law and Society at the University of Cape Town (UCT). In her role at UCT, she worked on the Rural Women’s Action-Research program. This program combines research, advocacy, and policy work on women, property, and governing authority under customary law. She also taught African Customary Law as a senior lecturer in UCT’s Department of Private Law. In 2013-2014, she was a resident scholar at the University of New Hampshire School of Law, where she held a fellowship for the completion of a book.

Mnisi Weeks has published in academic and popular media on customary law, women’s rights, cultural rights, governance, participatory democracy, dispute management, and the South African constitution. As a Rhodes Scholar at the University of Oxford, she researched the tensions between living customary law(s) and South African state law. Prior to Oxford, she clerked for the Deputy Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa, Dikgang Moseneke. Her current work focuses on the pursuit of justice and human security in indigenous courts by poor women and men living in rural South Africa.

As a young researcher, Mnisi Weeks is highly rated by the National Research Foundation of South Africa. She has been the recipient of a number of awards, including the Women in Science Award for the Development of Rural Women through Science and Technology.