Murray Leibbrandt goes on sabbatical leave

Prof. Murray Leibbrandt

SALDRU’s director, Murray Leibbrandt, is on sabbatical leave for a year from August 2018 to the end of July 2019. He will be based in the U.S. during his academic leave.

From mid-August this year, Leibbrandt will be based at Yale University until the end of their academic year in May 2019. Whilst at Yale, he will be working with SALDRU affiliate, Jim Levinsohn, director of the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs, a top US policy unit school promoting education and scholarship on global affairs. Thereafter, in May next year he will be visiting the Institute for Social Research (ISR) at the University of Michigan, until the end of June 2019. The ISR is the U.S.’ best survey data centre and has been running the Panel Study of Income Dynamics since 1968. Here Leibbrandt will be working on a monograph on inequality with the director of the ISR, David Lam, who is also a SALDRU affiliate.

SALDRU’s Vimal Ranchhod steps in as acting director in Cape Town while he is abroad.

While on sabbatical, Leibbrandt’s research will focus on South Africa’s inequality using NIDS data. The sabbatical comes at an opportune moment. The Mandela Initiative has drawn to a close and Leibbrandt’s term as the Pro-Vice Chancellor of Poverty and Inequality (PII) at the University of Cape Town (UCT) has ended and the sabbatical creates the space for him to dedicate his intellectual focus and energy to the recently launched African Centre of Excellence for Inequality Research (ACEIR). ACEIR is a project based in SALDRU and comprises a strong African research community that is working on inequality.

“The discussion of African inequalities has a huge role to play in the international inequalities agenda. What is essential is that the African inequality agenda draws from and is part of the international discussion of inequality, whilst at the same time paying careful attention to the specificities of African contexts and the existing literature on African inequality. The leadership of the centre requires that it is anchored in this way. This requires conceptualisation and a reflective exercise that sabbaticals are perfect for,” Leibbrandt said.

Leibbrandt will use his sabbatical to focus on these broad framing issues for the Centre. There is already planning and writing to be done for a Southern African inequalities conference planned for November in Cape Town, which will be co-hosted with GIZ, in addition to a workshop of the Centre planned in Paris in December alongside the 13th International Conference of the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) on Inequalities and Social Cohesion.

Leibbrandt will be using this time to act as an ambassador for the ACEIR, presenting research and talking to people about it. Being at Yale will ensure that he is better able to participate in international discussions. Being on sabbatical also gives him the flexibility to visit African centres. He has, in fact, just returned from Ghana and a had wonderful interaction with ACEIR’s Ghanaian team.

Leibbrandt returns to SALDRU in August 2019.