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Change the world

02/11/2022

Leading scholars, activists, and higher education practitioners from across the world, and Africa in particular, have gathered at Nelson Mandela University for the first of the three-day Advancing Critical University Studies Across Africa (ACUSAfrica) network’s 2022 colloquium.

Under the theme “Reflexive Solidarities in Techno-Rational Times”, the colloquium seeks to address, among others, concerns about the perceived disappearance of the ‘common good’ of ‘the university’ in the face of digital governance and techno-rationality that are gaining dominance in the higher education sector. The ideas for the theme of the colloquium were developed along with Professors Shireen Motala and Aslam Fataar.

An initiative between Mandela University’s Chair for Critical Studies in Higher Education Transformation (CriSHET), Queen’s University Belfast, the University of Ghana, and the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), the colloquium is also financially supported by the National Research Foundation (NRF).

“A central concern that drives the colloquium is the disappearance of the ‘common good’ of ‘the university’ from our horizon of possibilities against the speed at which the notions of digital governance and techno-rationality are achieving hegemony in the sector,” said Mandela University’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Engagement and Transformation, Professor Andre Keet, who also holds the CriSHET Chair.

“This co-development is furthering the de-politicisation of the university and thus impoverishes the university’s critical, emancipatory and democratic potential. The colloquium attempts to grapple with these issues whilst focusing on how reflexive solidarities may be advanced in the face of these challenges.”

Key speakers include Professor Su-Ming Khoo (National University of Ireland, Galway) on ‘Self-Reflexive Solidarities in Techno-Rational Times; Professor Premesh Lalu (University of the Western Cape) on ‘The Common Good of the University in Techno-Rational Times’; Professor Shirley Anne Tate (University of Alberta) on ‘Black Feminism and Critical University Studies’; Professor Takyiwaa Manuh (University of Ghana) on ‘The ‘African’ University in Techno-Rational Times’, and Professor Michalinos Zembylas (Open University of Cyprus) on ‘New Questions about the University and Critical University Studies in Techno-Rational Times: Decolonial Options’.

These will feed into various panel discussions, where panellists will delve into the ideas raised by the key speakers, towards generative debate to further self-reflexive solidarities within the academy and beyond.

The colloquium, running from 02 – 04 November 2022, will also feature two evening events, by the Critical University Studies - South Africa (CUS-SA) on the role and programme for a CUS-SA Network and the other by the Transdisciplinary Institute for Mandela Studies (TIMS) on radical openness.

The CUS-SA event will feature a think-piece address by Professor Saleem Badat from the University of Kwazulu-Natal, with a response by Mandela University’s Nobulele Phuza, and aims to engage higher education scholars in critical thinking around universities.

The TIMS event will be a lively discussion between George Washington University’s Professor Xolela Mangcu; and Professor Nomalanga Mkhize, Mx Cylia Natu and Ms Rachel Collett who are from Nelson Mandela University. Professor Crain Soudien will moderate this discussion on building generative and self-sustaining sites of critical thought in the university.

During the colloquium, the exhibition Aftermath: Violence and Wellbeing in the Context of the Student Movement, which was jointly produced by researchers of the HSRC, the University of Venda, and 36 former #FeesMustFall student activists, will be on display in the foyer of the North Campus Conference Centre, where the colloquium is taking place in person.

It wraps up on Friday with the launch of the exhibition-related book #FeesMustFall and its Aftermath: Violence, Wellbeing and the Student Movement in South Africa, authored by TM Luescher, A Wilson Fadiji, KG Morwe, A Erasmus, TS Letsoalo and SM Mokhema and published by the HSRC Press.

Contact information
Ms Zandile Mbabela
Media Manager
Tel: 0415042777
Zandile.Mbabela@mandela.ac.za