Public lecture series: Curriculum transformation matters: The decolonial turn

Posted on May 29, 2017

Prof Norman Duncan, Vice-Principal: Academic at the University of Pretoria, cordially invites you to a public lecture on transformation presented by Prof Garth Stevens, Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Humanities at the University of the Witwatersrand.
Title:  Curriculum Transformation: Potentialities and Pitfalls of the Decolonial Impulse
Date: Tuesday, 20 June 2017
Time: 17:00–18:30
Venue: Senate Hall, Administration Building, Hatfield Campus
Dress: Daywear
Enquiries; Ms Maliga Govender, 012 420 2444
RSVP to [email protected] by13 June 2017
Persons with disabilities are kindly requested to contact Neo Maseko on 012 420 2631 if assistance is required.
This paper begins with the assertion that, like so many historical injunctions towards social change, the contemporary decolonial impulse to transform higher education and its associated curricula runs the risk of becoming a floating signifier, if it is not populated with broad consensual understandings of its substantive content. To this end, the paper highlights key tenets associated with a decolonial approach, but selectively suggests six critical applications of such an approach to higher education in the current South African context, that either enable its potentialities or reveal its possible pitfalls. First, the question of historicity is important to engage, in order to appreciate both the continuities and discontinuities of present calls for a decolonial praxis. Second, whilst decolonial theory may have global purchase power in critiquing western modernity, how it is bedded is contextually contingent, and the historical salience of race and its intersectional referents will be central features to contend with in South African higher education. Third, heightened calls towards Afrocentricity in the production and dissemination of knowledge will need to engage critically with epistemic justice debates that foreground either a form of recuperative idealism or a form of archival expansion. Fourth, innovative pedagogic methods will of necessity have to interrogate the relations of power that have come to characterise the teaching and learning environments in contemporary higher education. Fifth, understanding the process of curriculum change as one that is iterative and constantly open to contestation surfaces an obligation to understand current modes of contestation that are frequently phenomenological/experiential, affective and corporeal. Finally, the paper concludes that the selected applications of a decolonial praxis, above, will invariably raise debates about the very nature of the neo-liberal university, especially in a historical moment of global populism.
Garth Stevens is a Professor and Clinical Psychologist in the Department of Psychology, in the School of Human and Community Development, at the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa. His research interests include foci on race, racism and related social asymmetries; racism and knowledge production; critical psychology, ideology, power and discourse; violence and its prevention; historical/collective trauma and memory; applied psychoanalytic theorising of contemporary social issues; and masculinity, gender and violence. He has published widely in these areas, both nationally and internationally, including co-editorships of A 'race' against time: Psychology and challenges to deracialisation in South Africa (UNISA Press, 2006) and Race, memory and the apartheid archive: Towards a transformative psychosocial praxis (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013). He is the co-lead researcher on the Apartheid Archive Project, which is an international research initiative that aims to examine the nature of the experiences of racism of South Africans under the old apartheid order and their continuing effects on individual and group functioning in contemporary South Africa. At present, he holds a B-rating from the National Research Foundation, is a member of the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf), and also serves as the Deputy Dean in the Faculty of Humanities at the University of the Witwatersrand.
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- Author Department of University Relations

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