Dr René Alicia Smith is Executive Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Design at Durban University of Technology (DUT). She is the current President of the South African Humanities Deans’ Association and Chair of the Steering Committee of South African Digital Language Resources (SADiLaR), a national Digital Humanities project supported by the Department of Science and Technology. Dr Smith is founding Festival Director of the Digital Art and Design Festival (Digifest) and a member of DHETs Advisory Panel on Creative Outputs and Innovations. She has worked across public, private and community sectors and consulted on gender and media policy projects in different SADC countries. She is an interdisciplinary researcher and has taught at several institutions of Higher Education in South Africa and served on a range of governing boards, including an appointment on the recommendation of South Africa’s Parliament. She completed her undergraduate qualification at Falmouth College of Arts, now Falmouth University in the United Kingdom. She has a MA cum laude and a PhD in Media & Cultural Studies from University of KwaZulu-Natal.



Deputy President

Professor Rosabelle Boswell is an anthropologist, a National Research Foundation (NRF) Rated Researcher and Executive Dean of Arts at Nelson Mandela University, South Africa. She is author of Le Malaise Creole: Ethnic Identity in Mauritius (Oxford: Berghahn), Representing Heritage in Zanzibar and Madagascar (Addis Ababa: Eclipse); Challenges to Identifying and Managing Intangible Cultural Heritage in Mauritius, Zanzibar and Seychelles (Dakar: Codesria) and Postcolonial African Anthropologies (coedited with F. Nyamnjoh Pretoria: HSRC Press). She has also authored many articles on cultural identity and has done ethnographic fieldwork in South Africa, Mauritius, Zanzibar and Madagascar. Her work has been funded by the Netherlands Foundation for Scientific Research); the South African National Research Foundation, the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa and Organisation for Social Science Research in East and southern Africa. In 2010, she served as a research team leader for the Mauritius Truth and Justice Commission, examining the legacies of slavery.


Prof Anthony Leysens


Professor Anthony Leysens is Dean of Arts and Social Sciences at Stellenbosch University and Treasurer of the South African Humanities’ Deans Association. His research​ interests include the political economy of South Africa with a specific focus on state, capital, labour, social movements and economic policy. Prof Leysens’ research projects cover the political economy of transformation and transition in South Africa, focusing on the form of state, economic policy, economic restructuring and governing political economic coalitions. The politics of online communities with a focus on veterans of the South African border war.



Heidi Hudson is Professor of International Relations and Dean of the Faculty of the Humanities at the University of the Free State, Bloemfontein. She is a former Director of the Centre for Gender and Africa Studies at the UFS, an NRF (B2) rated scholar, as well as a member of the Academy of Science of South Africa since 2012. She has written extensively in the area of feminist security studies, with a specific focus on Africa. Hudson’s current research interests concentrate on discursive and material gender deficits of liberal peacebuilding in the postcolony. Her other area of interest is the gendering of Africa’s International Relations, the African knowledge project and postcolonial/decolonial strategies of resistance. Heidi has held several fellowships through Fulbright, the Nordic Africa Institute, and the University of Calgary (Canada). In 2018, she was the Claude Ake Visiting Chair at the Nordic Africa Institute and the Department of Peace and Conflict Research in Uppsala, Sweden. She is co-editor and co-author of Post-conflict Reconstruction and Development in Africa: Concepts, role-players, policy and practice (2013), with Theo Neethling. Heidi was a PRIO Global Fellow from 2014 – 2017 and currently serves on several advisory and editorial boards.