Law, Science and Indigenous Knowledge: a conference, workshop & exhibition – 4-6 July 2024

The Global Network for Human Rights and the Environment, the Cape Town Science Centre, the University of Southampton Law School and the University of Witwatersrand School of Law are co-hosting a conference, workshop and exhibition on Law, Science and Indigenous Knowledge which will take place at the Cape Town Science Centre from 4-6 July 2024.

Participants can register to attend in person or online here:

The Land we are on: We acknowledge that this workshop takes place on the ancestral land of the Khoi and Sān communities, who were forced off their land by Dutch colonial occupiers more than 367 years ago, and were under occupation by the British for 180 years, followed by the Apartheid government, into the current dispensation. The first dispossession of land for commercial agricultural purposes, including of the construction of the Pega Pega fence which became the boundary line of the Khoi Dutch Frontier Wars in 1659, occurred in what is today called Observatory.  We need to protect, honour and recognise the history and peoples of this land and the ongoing displacement that these communities face.


Thursday 4 July

All times are in South Africa Standard Time

Venue: CTSC, Room TBC, 370B Main Road, Observatory

11.30 – registration

12 noon – Learning Lunch – learning and eating Indigenous Cape Town foods with Dr Ethel Phiri (University of Stellenbosch) and Loubie Rusch (Making Kos), remarks and discussion with Indigenous Agroecologists (speaker TBC) [By invitation only]

2pm – Walk-about of the exhibits in the CTSC

2.30 – Introduction and welcome by Steven Sack (Director, Cape Town Science Centre)

2.45 – Introductory remarks – Prof Clive Vinti (University of the Witwatersrand) and Dr Dina Lupin (University of Southampton)

3pm – 5.30pm:  Indigenous Knowledge – recognition, oppression and denial in South African law

  • Mzamani Khongelani Austin & Prof Ademola Oluborode Jegede (University of Venda) – Live and let’s live: The Indigenous Knowledge Act and the right of Indigenous Peoples to benefit from scientific progress and application in South Africa
  • Ntando Ncamane (University of the Free State) – An evaluation of South Africa’s commitment to the Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention in addressing traditional community mining-related matters: Progress or Regress?
  • Ntokozo Mabuya – Protection, Promotion, Development and Management of Indigenous Knowledge Act 6 of 2019 a critical analysis.

Friday 5 July

10am – Colonialism and Biodiversity

  • Dr Rachel Killean (The University of Sydney Law School) – Rights of Nature, Identity, and Indigeneity in Ireland
  • Margaret Palaghicon Von Rotz (SOAS University London, Indigenous legal scholar, Kiangan, Ifugao, Philippines and Modesto, California) – Decolonising 30×30: Using Fourth World Approaches to International Law to Establish Indigenous Protected Areas
  • Dr Kariuki Kirigia (University of Toronto) – Dispossession through conservation in Indigenous territories in Kenya

1pm – lunch

2pm – Indigenous epistemologies, conceptual resources and systems of governance

  • Kanika Jamwal (National University of Singapore) – A socio-legal inquiry into community-based water governance in India
  • Alex Alexis (Université de Montréal and Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne) – Epistemic degradation: The role of Law and Science in othering and transforming Indigenous Knowledge into “Beliefs”
  • Dr Lindani Mhlanga (Free State Centre for Human Rights) – The Trans-temporality of Indigenous Land Ownership in South Africa: Indigenous Ecology as a Transactional Afterthought.
  • Prof Yann Allard-Tremblay (McGill University) – Governing Otherwise: from Mastery to Reciprocal Responsiveness

5pm – Keynote talk by Tauriq Jenkins

5.30 – 7pm – walk to the Liesbeek River with Tauriq Jenkins

7pm – CONFERENCE DINNER – The Wild Fig [By invitation only]

Saturday 6 July

10am – Indigenous knowledge and courts

  • Marina Noce-Saporito – Evidentiary Practices and Indigenous Knowledge: A Comparative Analysis of the Practice of Expert Testimony Related to Indigenous Knowledge and Science
  • Irene Kariuki (Advocate of the High Court, Kenya & Postgraduate Candidate, University of Nairobi Law School) – Indigenous Knowledge Expertise in Court: A Case for the Establishment of Specialized Courts in Africa
  • Dr André Nunes Chaib (Maastricht University) – Ontological Conflicts and the Law: Pragmatic Truth and the Reconciliation of Indigenous Knowledge with Science in International Courts

Closing remarks – Steven Sack, Director, Cape Town Science Centre