Centre for Civil Society

Through critical scholarship, information dissemination and teaching/training, the Centre for Civil Society (CCS) works to advance eco-social justice by developing knowledge, dialogue and partnerships within civil society aimed at capacity-building. The Centre was established in 2001 and is based in Durban, South Africa.

A great deal of the CCS’s energy is devoted to its ongoing relationship with local movements and struggles. Stemming from an epistemological commitment to view social conflict from the standpoint of the oppressed, it has developed a close dialogical relationship with the Durban activist community, learning about the nature of oppressive systems through it (developing knowledge grounded in concrete social struggle and processes of conflict), as well as providing intellectual and cultural resources to it.

The very layout of CCS’ offices is indicative of this effort to build linkages between activism and analysis, in both directions. In addition to offices for administrative and office staff, it offers its computer work stations and its multipurpose meeting room (which hosts up to 50 people) to Community Scholars and visiting scholars, to facilitate political organizing and research. The ‘Protest Laboratory’ that is featured on CCS’s website, also contains various resources for activists, including an online library of radical literature.[i]

The Center’s cognitive practice further includes local agitprop (in various media), critical policy analysis (which sets local struggles in a broader political economic and political-ecological context), the collaborative construction of venues that bring together various groups surrounding socio-ecological justice initiatives, and also extends to political community organizing and intercultural dialogue. This is done through the agency of CCS Community Scholars—activists grounded in local, predominantly Black communities, that receive a stipend and have their own space at the Centre to pursue their own initiatives.

Despite the fact that the many publications and initiatives credited to the Centre’s principles and associates maintain a local thrust, the CCS has managed to build a visible international profile. Situated in a highly unequal and protest-rich country, it pursues a project that is fully attuned to the need for knowledge that is grounded in ‘the sources and processes of conflict’ and produced with and for those who challenge oppressive systems.


CCS Website


[i] See http://ccs.ukzn.ac.za/default.asp?2,27,3,1858, accessed February 24, 2015