Rike Sitas is an inter-disciplinary urban scholar on the humanities side of social science, straddling sociology, human geography, cultural studies, and urban design. Her research sits within and between two research streams. The first revolves around the role of art, culture, and heritage in urban justice; and the second is a budding research focus on technology and African cities, with a particular focus on youth.

Within the urban culture work, Sitas is currently wrapping up Whose Heritage Matters: mapping making and mobilising which focused on the role of cultural heritage in sustainable and just development in Cape Town and Kisumu. To consolidate and extend the cultural heritage work she is in the process of co-developing a Heritopolis Lab as part of a global UN-Habitat Initiative called Heritopolis. Power Talks, a collaboration with the Goethe-Institut, critically examines the cultural, socio-spatial, political and economic practices in Sub-Saharan Africa. All three of these projects work towards asserting the importance of social and culture life in how just cities can be realised.

In collaboration with colleagues at ACC, Sitas is strengthening the focus on technology and African cities. ACC, UNITAC and CitiesScienceLab have launched the Urban Academy, built on a shared interest in unpacking the intersection between technology, society, and cities, and in particular an action-oriented approach to research on democratic decision-making, new models of service delivery and the future of work. Under the banner of the Urban Academy, Rike has recently launched Young and Online in African Cities , a project that focuses on tech based activations for just and sustainable urban development. Also focusing on cities and technology, She co-leads on Platform Politics and Silicon Savannahs which looks at motorcycle mobility and fintech in African cities.

Sitas has a deep commitment to, and love of learning, and has convened and taught postgraduate courses on The Sociology of Popular Arts & Culture (Sociology), Gender and Globalisation (Sociology), Theorising Justice from the South (Sociology), Imagining Southern Cities through Fiction and Film (Environmental and Geographical Sciences), and Conservation in Transformative Contexts (Architecture, Planning and Geomatics). She also regularly supervises Masters students from ACC’s MPhil in Southern Urbanism. Sitas is also supervising students from Sociology and Architecture, Planning and Geomatics at UCT, and a PhD student from the Urban Futures Centre at DUT.

Sitas is an active member of the Re-Arrangements Collective which has been collaborating since 2020. She was 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 she 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.

Over the past 15 years Sitas 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). She has participated in a range of solo and group shows at the KwaZulu-Natal Society for the Arts (KZNSA), Durban Art Gallery, ArtSpace DurbanThe AVA Gallery, Johannesburg Art Gallery, Bag Factory; presented video work in Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Rio; has 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.

Additionally, committed to co-production and institutional collaborations, Sitas is on the Steering Committee for the Knowledge Transfer Programme with the City of Cape Town.

Journal Articles

  • Perry, B., Castán Broto, V., Patel, Z., & Sitas, R. (2023). Alliances, allyship and activism: the value of international partnerships for coproducing just cities in Planning Theory.
  • The Re-Arrangements Collective (Fabien, C., Hussain, A., Makori, T., Mohamed, S., Osbourne, A., Pilo’, F., Ramakrishnan, K., Simone, A., Sitas, R., Suhail, A. (2023). On Urban Rearrangements: A Suite in Five Movements in International Journal of Regional Research. 
  • Wenz, L., Sitas, R. & Brown-Luthango. (2023). Guest editorial: engaging young people and their futures in African cities in Gateways: International Journal of Community Research and Engagement.
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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 

Book Chapters 

  • Sitas, R. (2023). “Policies aren’t pieces of paper”: tussles and tactics in action-oriented and agile cultural policy research in Durrer, V., Gilmore, A., Jancovich, L., and Stevenson, D (eds) Cultural Policy is Local: Understanding Cultural Policy as Situated Practice. London: Pagrave Macmillan.
  • Sitas, S. (2023). Publics, Politics, Place and Pedagogy in Urban Studies in Pande, A., Chaturvedi, R. & Daya, S (eds) Epistemic Justice and the Postcolonial University. Johannesburg: Wits University Press
  • Daya, S. & Sitas, R. (2023). Imagining Southern Cities: Reflections on an Interdisciplinary Pedagogical Space in Pande, A., Chaturvedi, R. & Daya, S (eds) Epistemic Justice and the Postcolonial University. Johannesburg: Wits University Press
  • 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

Special issues

  • Nkula-Wenz, L., Sitas, R. & Brown-Luthango (eds). (2023). Urban Youth – Engaging young people and their futures in African cities in Gateways: International Journal of Community Research and Engagement. Vol 15
  • Daya, S. & Sitas, R (eds). (2021). Representing Urban Lives in Africa in Critical African Studies. Vol 3

Reports and policy notes

  • Platform Politics and Silicon Savannahs: The rise of on demand logistics and mobility in Nairobi and Kigali (2021)
  • 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


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WHM Cape Town Report V7

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