Posted on August 04, 2016
The MA programme in African-European Cultural Relations addresses the current discussions with regard to the epistemic foundations of transformation, or Africanisation, head-on: How are epistemic paradigms influenced by the colonial past and how do they play out in entangled forms of cultural practices in (South) African life today? This programme is unique on the African continent and is, for the first time, programmatically challenging the perspectives of coloniser and colonised, north and south, from the perspective of critical cultural studies.
The first students in the programme graduated on 19 April 2016 and their research topics were a striking demonstration of the criticality and trans-disciplinarity of the programme:
The MA in African-European Cultural Relations was established in 2013 with the aim of creating a critical understanding of the diverse and entangled cultural foundations of our thinking about the concepts of 'Europe(an)' and 'Africa(n)'. It arose from the growing need for intercultural mediators in multilateral governmental, non-governmental and business-related institutions that has developed in the global arena. Sound language competence combined with knowledge of international relations, cultural studies, African-European history and a critical understanding of different cultural systems and their influence on decision-making, are sought-after skills in the rapidly expanding fields of international and cross-cultural affairs.
The voices of the graduands
Asked what was of particular value in the programme, Pamela Ganyi referred to the diversity of the students: 'Different backgrounds, different countries ... We not only "shared ideas" but also argued about true issues.' Pamela is employed at Fragomen Worldwide but is considering doing a PhD.
For Sikho Siyotula the most concrete result of the experience was learning 'what postcolonial studies is all about … And now I see it everywhere: exactly what postcolonial studies is.' With her background in fine arts, she particularly appreciated 'meeting other students from all over the world ... Seeing that other people are also concerned about what concerns us … It helped me in terms of academia, being a researcher and working in a peer group.' She is now considering doing a PhD in Hamburg or Berlin.
For Chané Rama Dahya the critical reading of Derek Hook's text on Homi Bhabha was an unforgettable experience: 'It is constantly on my mind.' Furthermore, she appreciated that she 'was not stuck in one discipline, [but instead was able] to think … right across the board.' She plans to do a PhD on a similar topic: comparing the capital cities of Berlin and Pretoria.
For detailed information on the programme and the application procedures, please visit www.up.ac.za/study-europe.
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