Mahlatse Ramoroka (IPED 2019) recently participated in the annual International Journal of Arts and Sciences (IJAS) conference at Harvard University’s Medical. Held last May 21-25, the conference is an interdiscplinary academic conference which aims to provide opportunities for academics from a range of disciplines and countries to share their research and develop networks.
Mahlatse presented a research paper she authored under the supervision of Professor Idalia Bastiaens of Fordham’s Political Science Department, titled “The Rise of Kleptocracy in Democracies: A Case Study of South Africa”. In this research paper, she explores the possibilities of kleptocracy as a commonly authoritarian phenomenon, finding its way into democracies. The argument presented contends that kleptocracy in a democratic context, articulates the practices of a leadership era and not the identity of the political regime. The case study evidence provided, indicates that South Africa as a unit of analysis, defies the characterization of kleptocracy – which is anchored on the unquestioning obedience of authority and a heavy absence of accountability. Therefore, classifying it as such, has proven to be too great a stretch. The study concludes in the hope that further research within the same area of study will be initiated with Brazil, Thailand and Malaysia as case studies.
Beyond the academic itinerary, the conference included educational tours to Maine which showed spectacular old seafarers’ houses. Overall, Mahlatse considers the experience to have afforded her a great opportunity to learn from other scholars, while also getting feedback on her own work. For the future, she hopes to take on more research projects which seek to impact and shape political discourse.