The University of Zululand

12th Annual Virtual Humanities and Social Sciences Conference 2021



You are invited to participate in the 12th Annual Virtual Humanities and Social Sciences Conference to be held virtually in Summer 2021.

Conferences Dates: 27-28 October 2021

Conference Theme

Between Vulnerability and Sustainability: New Responses from the Humanities and Social Sciences

Although vulnerability as a condition and sustainability as a developmental objective do not necessarily exist along a finite ideational continuum, each of them has figured significantly in the background of issues that have dominated human affairs in the past couple of years. As such, they have continued to provoke different responses from different commentators across disciplines and regions. While they may appear to be discrete conditions and phenomena, there is an unmistakable, perhaps fundamental, link between the two. For example, the current push for greener energy sources and carbon-neutral activities is a direct attempt to mitigate the levels of vulnerability of communities and populations most exposed to the devastating effects of climate change. Another example can be found in many of the public health measures taken to respond to the COVID 19 pandemic. The decision to begin vaccinations first with health workers and then the elderly is based on a consideration of perceived levels of vulnerability as well as a plan to increase the chances of sustainable containment of the spread of the virus.

The terms ‘vulnerable’ and ‘vulnerability’ have traditionally been used in the contexts of studies on poverty, disaster management, famine and health emergencies which more often than not involve less privileged populations and regions. However, the increasing menace of climate change resulting in wild fires ravaging affluent suburbs in California for example, as well as the COVID 19 scourge that has wreaked untold havoc among US and European citizens, suggest that questions need to be asked about the presumed sustainability of those previously considered to be protected from the common vagaries of life such as disease and an inclement environment. Furthermore, Charles Kupchan (2019) has shown, in The Vulnerability of Empire (2019), that even the world’s most powerful states, deeply ensconced by centuries of economic and military successes, can themselves be exposed to risks from what he calls “imprudent and, ultimately, self-defeating” policies at home and on the international stage.

In Africa, Global South and South Africa issues of poverty, landlessness, access to basic services such as water, sanitation, renewable and alternative sources of energy, innovations such as manufacturing of COVID 19 vaccines in the developing countries instead of importing such technologies, supply and skills from the Global North, mitigating and adapting to climate change etc. calls for a need for fresh approaches to these age-old issues. The 12th Annual Virtual Humanities and Social Sciences Conference will interrogate vulnerability and sustainability from an interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary social science and humanities perspectives. Abstracts, full papers and poster proposals written on one or some of the themes and subthemes of the conference are welcome.


  • The vulnerability and sustainability of African languages’ teaching and research efforts
  • Climate change negotiations, mitigation and adaptive capacity of states and non- state actors.
  • Alternative energy sources, water, climate, waste and energy nexus
  • Communication, media, technologies and innovative strategies for a ‘new normal society’
  • Languages as tools to address vulnerability and unsustainability
  • A quest for a ‘de-colonial’ and afro centric post school curriculum
  • Gender and social constructions of vulnerability and poverty
  • Social services, social welfare state and poverty alleviation in a developmental state
  • COVID 19 Vaccine research and manufacturing as a Global South and African innovation
  • Rurality, land rights and landlessness in the Global South
  • Securitisation of inter-state relations and emergence of new global power blocks
  • Economic, environmental justice and sustainable development
  • The rule of law, vulnerability, human rights protection and sustainable societies
  • Migration, sustainable and responsible tourism

Important dates:

  • Submission of Abstracts by 30 August 2021
    • Notice of acceptance: by 30 September 2021
  • Submission of Full Research Paper for publication in Conference Proceedings: 10 October 2021
  • Submission of Posters Papers (PP) by 30 August 2021
    • Notice of acceptance: by 30 September 2021

Conference dates: 27-28 October 2021

Requirements for submission of Abstracts:

  • Title of paper
  • Name(s) of author(s)
  • Institutional Affiliation
  • E-mail address
  • Maximum of 300 words and to include: purpose of the paper; the central argument and indication of methodology, results and/or conclusions and include 3-5 keywords.
  • Final submissions should be in Arial, font size 12, 1.5 spacing on A4 portrait.
    • Full Research Papers to include separate title page with names of authors and a separate manuscript


  • Final Full Research Papers: – 5000 – 8000 words
  • Final Poster Papers: – Maximum 2000 words


All written submissions to:

All inquiries to: