Straddling the academic world of urban studies and creative practice, I am fascinated by the intersection of culture and cities, and more specifically on the role of art, culture and heritage in urban life. Linked to this I have been exploring the impact of the cultural policy and civic practice in producing more just cities. A large part of my research focus has meant unpacking the notions of public space and public life in cities in Africa and the global South.
After being the co-founder and co-director of Durban-based arts organisation, dala, I joined the African Centre for Cities at the University of Cape Town and have been managing a wide range of projects. Public Art and the Power of Place, Puncture Points, Serious Fun and Whose Heritage Matters all engaged creative methods to explore complex urban challenges. Between 2016 and 2020 I coordinated the Cape Town Local Interaction Platform for a global collaborative and comparative project called Mistra Urban Futures, where I was research lead on three collaborations across different cities in South Africa, Kenya, Sweden and the UK, focusing on: Knowledge Exchange between scholars and municipal officials; reflecting on different research experiences in 5 cities and how action-oriented research can contribute to Realising Just Cities; and asserting the importance of socio-cultural transformations in Cultural Heritage and Just Cities.
I have worked with policy makers and most recently collaborated on developing two strategic notes entitled ‘Heritage, sustainability, and urban development: valuing tangible and intangible heritage as drivers of placemaking in Cape Town’ and ‘Culture, sustainability and urban innovation: towards culture as a strategic objective for urban development in the City of Cape Town’. These built on work with the City of Cape Town and National government as part of the SA-EU Dialogue Facility on Cultural Mapping, Planning and Impact Assessment for Sustainable and Just Cities. In addition I have worked with civil society (such as the Goethe-Institut, Greatmore Studios, District 6 Museum, Ndifuna Ukwazi) and the private sector (such as running a workshop with Pinsent Masons on social and cultural infrastructure, youth and technology).
I have also been a fellow at the Centre for Humanities Research at the University of the Western Cape (2020-2021) and the Institute for Creative Arts at the University of Cape Town (2020-2021) as part of a writing project called Restless Exuberance. In 2019 I was awarded the Africa Oppenheimer Award through the Centre for African Studies at the University of Cape Town to support her research on heritage and spatial justice.
I have a deep commitment to, and love of learning, and have convened the following postgraduate courses at UCT: Gender and Globalisation; the Sociology of Arts and Popular Culture; and Imagining Southern Cities through Fiction and Film. I have also guest lectured in many different disciplines in the social sciences, humanities and engineering and the built environment. I continue to supervise Masters and PhD students in multiple disciplines connected to urban studies, largely with a particular focus on urban culture.
Over the past 15 years she has also been involved in a range of art related projects with organisations such as the Visual Arts Network South Africa (VANSA) and the Gordon Institute of Performing and Creative Arts (GIPCA). I have participated in a range of solo and group shows at the KwaZulu-Natal Society for the Arts (KZNSA), Durban Art Gallery, ArtSpace Durban, The AVA Gallery, Johannesburg Art Gallery, Bag Factory; presented video work in Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Rio; have taken part in a range of collaborative public events with local organisations such as Siwela Sonke and CAPE06, and international organisations such as Netherlands Media Institute (NIMK), Cascoland, AvideoArte-Mozambique and Raw Projects amongst others.
- Sitas, R (2020). ‘Becoming Otherwise: Artful Urban Enquiry’ in Urban Forum Vol 31. 157-175
- Sitas, R (2020). ‘Cultural policy and just cities in Africa’ in CITY: Analysis of Urban Change, Theory, Action. Vol 24(3-4). 473-492 https://doi.org/10.1080/13604813.2020.1782090
- Sitas, R (2020). ‘Creative cities, graffiti and culture-led development in South Africa: Dlala Ndima (play your part)’ in IJUR Vol 44(5). 821-840 https://doi.org/10.1111/1468-2427.12894
- Perry, B, Auger, L and Sitas, R (2019). ‘Festivals as Integrative Sites: Valuing Tangible and Intangible Heritage for Sustainable Urban Development’ in International Journal of Heritage Studies
- Borie, M, Ziervogel, G, Taylor, F, Millington, J, Sitas, R and Pelling, M (2018). ‘Mapping for resilience across city scales: An opportunity to integrate data from local and city perspectives’ in Special Issue of Environmental Science and Policy
- Sitas, R (2016). ‘Pacifying Publics’ in Public Art Review. 27(1)
- Sitas, R & Pieterse, E (2013). ‘Democratic Renovations’ in Third Text. 27.3
- Smit, W, Duakovic, E, Sitas, R, Johansson, M, Haysom, G, Dymitrow, M, Ingelhag, K, Kotze, S (2020) ‘Replicating projects for comparative research: Mistra Urban Futures’ experiences with comparative work on knowledge exchange, food and transport’ in Simon, D, Palmer, H and Riise, J Comparative Urban Research From Theory to Practice. Bristol: Policy Press
- Zayd Minty, Laura Nkula-Wenz, Naomi Roux, Vaughn Sadie, Anna Selmeczi and Rike Sitas (2020) ‘doual’art: Art, Publics, and the City as a “Field of Experience” in Forces of Art: Perspectives rom a changing World.
- Pereira, L, Moyo, B, Lavery, C, Sitas N, Sitas, R, Selomane, O and Trisos, C. (2020). ‘Wakanda forever: African science fiction prototyping for reimagining the Anthropocene’ in Futures. Oxford University Press
- Sitas, R (2020). ‘Publics, pavements and public-facing art’ in Routledge Companion to Public Space. London: Routledge
- Sitas, R (2017). ‘Public-facing art and African Cityness’ in Public Art in Africa: Art and Urban Transformations in Douala. Geneva: MetisPresses
- Sitas, R (2017). ‘Cultural Policy and the Power of Place, South Africa’ in The Routledge Handbook for Global Cultural Policy. London: Routledge
- Sitas, R and Smit, W (2016) ‘Understanding the Just City’ in Co-production in Action: towards realising just cities’. Gothenburg: Mistra Urban Futures
- Sitas, R (2015). ‘Community Centres in Crisis: The story of the TSOGA Environmental Resource Centre’ in State/Society Synergy in Philippi, Cape Town. Cape Town: African Centre for Cities
- Sitas, R (2012). Becoming Otherwise’ in 2010 Reasons to Live in a Small Town. Johannesburg: VANSA
- Sitas, R (2012). ‘Trespassing and the performance of public art’ in Alterating Conditions: Performing Performance Art in South Africa. Johannesburg: Bag Factory
- Sitas, R (2011). ‘On the outskirts of childhood’ and ‘Mother-Cityness: representations of Cape Town’ in Uncontained: Opening the Community Arts Project Archive.Cape Town: Centre for Humanities Research
Reports and policy notes
- Whose Heritage Matters: Mapping, making, mobilising cultural heritage in Cape Town (2021)
- Heritage, sustainability, and urban development: valuing tangible and intangible heritage as drivers of placemaking in Cape Town (2021)
- Culture, sustainability and urban innovation: towards culture as a strategic objective for urban development in the City of Cape Town (2020)
- Sitas, Sadie, Duxbury, Moiloa (2020) Cultural Mapping, Planning and Impact Assessment for Sustainable and Just Cities. SA-EU Dialogue Facility
- Sitas, Fortuin (2019) Cultural Heritage and Just Cities. Mistra Urban Futures
- Perry, Ager & Sitas (2017) Festivals as Integrative Sites: Valuing Tangible and Intangible Heritage for Sustainable Development. JPI Heritage Plus and Mistra Urban Futures
- Sitas (2016) Serious Fun. African Centre for Cities
- Sitas (2016) Public Art and the Power of Place. African Centre for Cities