New Director for Centre for Civil SocietyGeneral

The new Director of the Centre for Civil Society, Dr Shauna Mottiar.The new Director of the Centre for Civil Society, Dr Shauna Mottiar.

UKZN academic Dr Shauna Mottiar has been appointed Director of the Centre for Civil Society (CCS) in the School of Built Environment and Development Studies within the College of Humanities

Mottiar, who says she feels privileged to serve as the Centre’s Director, began her journey as a Research Fellow at the Centre in 2008 where she worked on a number of civil society-focused research projects, including social movements and social protest.

‘CCS as a space is unique in that it allowed me to consider theoretical aspects alongside “praxis” through direct contact with civil society activists,’ she said.

The Centre’s main aims are to advance socio-economic and environmental justice by developing critical knowledge about, for and in dialogue with civil society through teaching, research and publishing.

Mottiar intends to build on this in several ways, including expanding the centre’s contribution to the formal UKZN teaching programme to include both masters and honours options.

‘I aim to initiate programmes which allow grants to students conducting research in the area of civil society for their MA and PhD dissertations. I also plan to expand the Centre’s research staff to allow for the creation of dedicated research specialities.

‘Added to that, the Centre enjoys a number of links with national and international civil society organisations and activists which I would like to expand on to include formal collaborations and training,’ said Mottiar.

CCS has both an active seminar series and a programme of hosting international scholars which she hopes to continue and to expand, further building on CCS’s cultural initiatives through projects supporting community participatory documentary art and photography.

In keeping with UKZN’s commitment to community engagement, Mottiar highlighted the CCS Community Scholarship Initiative which involves participation by members of civil society organisations in Durban allowing for exchanges between CCS academics and local civil society organisations, thus providing a space for the organic intellectual.

‘This initiative also ensures that the theoretical understanding of the concept “civil society” is underpinned by practical experiences and likewise that civil society organisations linked with the CCS have an opportunity to participate in evolving formulations of theories on civil society and are helped to use them in their own environments,’ she said.

* Mottiar, who has a PhD (Political Studies) from the University of the Witwatersrand, worked for a variety of research organisations including the Electoral Institute of Southern Africa, the Centre for Policy Studies and the African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes. She has also worked on research projects at the Centre for Conflict Resolution and Health Economics and the HIV and AIDS Research Division.

Mottiar undertook a post-doctoral fellowship at UKZN where she was based as a research fellow at the Centre for Civil Society and later in the Discipline of Development Studies, School of Built Environment and Development Studies.  Her research interests include civil society, social movements, social protest and philanthropy.

She has published in a number of journals including Politics and Society, Development and Change, Journal of Contemporary African Studies, and Democratisation and Politikon. She teaches a Development Studies masters course titled: “Civil Society and Development”. 

Melissa Mungroo