College of Human Sciences

The Triennial Unisa School of Arts Conference 2-4 October 2019

Valley Lodge & Spa: Magaliesburg
Event date:
02 - 04 October 2019

1st Call For Papers

Theme: Africa’s Position in the 4th Industrial Revolution

Artwork title: The sum of us. By Rheta Erasmus. Unisa Art Collection.

Rapid growth and unprecedented innovations in technology on a global scale have started to blur the distinction between human being and machine. Technologies barely imaginable a few decades ago are now embedded in our everyday lives and even our human bodies. We have entered the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR). Worldwide, scholars are confronted with technologies that challenge their perceptions of their disciplines (including the arts), the ways in which they teach and communicate with their students, and the ways in which they gather and analyse data and information. These technologies can threaten their jobs and their life’s work. Do we need language practitioners when machines can translate, or librarians when we have search engines? Can artificial intelligence and computer programmes compose music or produce artworks? Will the robots dance for us? Being innovative is the only way in which universities and academics can be competitive and cushion themselves against the various turbulences of this digital industrial revolution. The 4IR poses both a major challenge and a major opportunity for higher education institutions to reinvent themselves. This requires new and creative ways of thinking, problem solving and innovating.

This technological revolution will fundamentally alter the way we work, live and relate to one another. We are compelled to look anew at fundamental questions such as ‘What does it mean to be human?’. We have to consider what this 4IR will do to or for our humanity. In this era of digital humanities, bio-engineering, genome editing, artificial intelligence and virtual reality, even the question of the necessity and value of the arts has been brought to the fore once more.

To what extent is this revolution happening on the African continent? How can we talk about or anticipate the effects of the 4IR in African countries where, some might argue, the 3rd or even 2nd Industrial Revolutions have not yet fully run their course? Can we address important social issues such as inequality, security and identity (the three major concerns raised regarding the 4IR) through a combination of art and technology?

This conference is inter-, trans- and multidisciplinary in nature and scholars in the arts and other disciplines from as wide a range as possible will be accommodated.

Possible topics include (but are not limited to):

African arts and technology

  • Languages and linguistics
  • Literatures and literary theory
  • Musical arts
  • Performance arts
  • Visual arts

African cultures, societies and technology

  • Africanisation and/or globalisation
  • Decolonisation and transformation
  • Identity and (digital) identities

African universities, education and technology

  • Digital humanities
  • Information sciences (libraries, archives, museums)
  • Teaching and learning
  • The digital divide and open and free access
  • Transforming institutional culture

African economics, politics and technology

  • Automation and job security
  • Democracy in the age of social media and fake news
  • Disruptive technologies
  • Equality
  • Security

Abstract and paper guidelines

Abstracts should be no longer than 250-300 words
Abstracts should be editable in MS Word format
Papers are for 20 minutes oral presentations plus 5 minutes Q&A
Send abstracts to

Important dates

Deadline for submission of abstracts:

31 May 2019 [1st call]

21 June 2019 [2nd call]

Final notification date for acceptance of abstracts:

1st & 2nd call – 28 June 2019

Last day of registration for conference: To be announced