Dr. Jonny Steinberg
Dr Steinberg is the author of five books, four of which explore South African people and institutions in the wake of the transition to democracy. The institutions he has studied are the police, the prison, the farm and the clinic. The people he has written about have generally been men. The common thread between these projects has been an investigation into how political transition has changed the filigrees of unwritten rules through which individuals understand their lives and relate to others. Dr Steinberg has also, of late, worked beyond South Africa, on Liberia’s recent civil war, and some of the questions it has raised about migration, exile and transitional justice.
Dr Steinberg is currently working on two projects. He is recording the life history of a Somali man who fled Mogadishu as a child in 1991, grew up itinerant and unsettled in various east African countries, and finally made his way down Africa's eastern seaboard to South Africa when he was in his early 20s. His story is a frame for exploring a range of African questions, from state collapse in Somalia, to the relationship between formal state institutions and undocumented people, to xenophobia in South Africa. Dr Steinberg is also working on a project that revisits South Africa in the 1960s and explores some of the unlikely habits and mentalities the country's present governors have inherited from that time. He is especially interested in the role that fear has played in shaping South African statecraft both then and now.