At its annual congress in July 2012, the South African Sociological Association (SASA), a professional body representing the discipline of sociology and the professional interests of sociologists, adopted – by a substantial majority – the following resolution:

We resolve that any scholar based in Israel who wishes to be invited to present a paper at SASA must state that they are opposed to Israeli rule of occupied Palestinian territories.

The formation of SASA twenty years ago (as a merger of two pre-existing associations) took place precisely at the moment that the ‘new’ South African democratic order was being forged. This founding history, together with a long and complex history of sociological involvement in public intellectual life, as well as traditions of engaged scholarship in this country, form the backdrop against which this resolution was adopted.

At the July 2013 Annual General Meeting of SASA, it was agreed that the incoming SASA Council should communicate the content of the resolution to the SASA membership. The resolution signals SASA’s recognition of the risk posed by Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories, and the devastating social consequences thereof. It also gives central recognition to the position of intellectuals and academic institutions in the struggle for social justice.  

At a moment when we are confronted by immense social challenges – at a local, regional and global level – the resolution on Israel has re-opened many questions about the role and significance of SASA, and sociological scholarship more generally, in critique and progressive social change. These questions, and the debates they inspire will no doubt continue to energise and enliven SASA as a community of engaged sociologists.

A statement issued by SASA Council on a resolution regarding scholars from Israel adopted at the Annual General Meeting of the South African Sociological Association on July 3rd 2012.