Scielo RSS <![CDATA[Acta Academica]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/rss.php?pid=2415-047920200001&lang=en vol. 52 num. 1 lang. en <![CDATA[SciELO Logo]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/img/en/fbpelogp.gif http://www.scielo.org.za <![CDATA[<b>Introduction to the Special Focus</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S2415-04792020000100001&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en <![CDATA[<b>Reflecting on the ethics of PhD research in the Global South: reciprocity, reflexivity and situatedness</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S2415-04792020000100002&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en This paper explores ethical issues of reciprocity, reflexivity and situatedness in conducting ethnographic fieldwork in the Global South as part of PhD research projects. Against the backdrop of increasingly bureaucratised doctoral processes, we argue that PhD students occupy a particular terrain that involves continuous navigation of tensions between institutionally-required ethical procedures and 'situational' ethical processes in the field. We illustrate these tensions by analysing reflections on our experiences of conducting fieldwork in Indonesia, India and the Philippines. Guided by decolonial and feminist thought highlighting the politics of knowledge (co)production, this paper unpacks the problems of insider-outsider binaries and standardised ethical procedures, and explores the possibilities of ethics as visible, collaborative negotiation. <![CDATA[<b>Challenging the way we know the world: overcoming paralysis and utilising discomfort through critical reflexive thought</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S2415-04792020000100003&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en Reflexivity has been foregrounded as an important practice in scholarship regarding the scrutiny of ethical research and knowledge production. What is at risk, however, is reflexivity becoming counter-productive and consumed within the hegemony of Western practice, ultimately making little contribution towards disrupting power asymmetries. In this paper, we ask, at what point can critical self-reflexivity become productive, rather than self-indulgent and paralysing? Reflecting on the assumptions that underpin our scholarship, we ask, how can we utilise emotions of paralysis, discomfort and contradiction towards positive social change? Drawing on our experiences, we highlight the messy nature of reflexivity and argue that these emotions are important and entail a constant re-examination of the assumptions embedded in our pedagogy, scholarship and motives for engaging with the world. In so doing, we show how challenging the ways we know the world through reflexivity and critical thought are vital in the process of decolonising knowledge. <![CDATA[<b>Epistemic (in)justice and decolonisation in higher education: experiences of a crosssite teaching project</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S2415-04792020000100004&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en Higher education has been strongly contested in recent times, on the grounds of its role in reproducing epistemic injustice, leading to calls to 'decolonise' institutions, curricula and teaching practices. Meanwhile, the practice of epistemic critique also points to potentials for challenge, learning and change. This article offers critical reflections in two distinct moments of time: firstly, reflections on experiences of a cross-site teaching project (2016) involving three of the authors (Mucha, Pesch and Wielenga) from the Departments of Political Science at the Universities of Düsseldorf (Germany) and Pretoria (South Africa) in an academic virtual collaboration project using shared classes and video-conferencing tools to study peace-building, human mobility and mediation. Secondly, the writing process for this article has involved a further collaborative author (Khoo) to comment upon and theorise curriculum-making and teaching experiences. We look at the different contexts in each country and how far the curricula and syllabi at both universities can be supplemented by cross-site teaching elements to deal with epistemic asymmetries in higher education reflexively, while leaning towards a more just knowledge (re)production. Some key challenges and limitations of the cross-site project are also discussed. <![CDATA[<b>How do we teach the world? - A conversation about decolonization, processes of unlearning and 'aha moments' in institutions of higher education</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S2415-04792020000100005&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en Higher education has been strongly contested in recent times, on the grounds of its role in reproducing epistemic injustice, leading to calls to 'decolonise' institutions, curricula and teaching practices. Meanwhile, the practice of epistemic critique also points to potentials for challenge, learning and change. This article offers critical reflections in two distinct moments of time: firstly, reflections on experiences of a cross-site teaching project (2016) involving three of the authors (Mucha, Pesch and Wielenga) from the Departments of Political Science at the Universities of Düsseldorf (Germany) and Pretoria (South Africa) in an academic virtual collaboration project using shared classes and video-conferencing tools to study peace-building, human mobility and mediation. Secondly, the writing process for this article has involved a further collaborative author (Khoo) to comment upon and theorise curriculum-making and teaching experiences. We look at the different contexts in each country and how far the curricula and syllabi at both universities can be supplemented by cross-site teaching elements to deal with epistemic asymmetries in higher education reflexively, while leaning towards a more just knowledge (re)production. Some key challenges and limitations of the cross-site project are also discussed. <![CDATA[<b>Amos Tutuola as a quest hero for endogenous Africa: actively anglicising the Yoruba language and yorubanising the English language</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S2415-04792020000100006&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en Higher education has been strongly contested in recent times, on the grounds of its role in reproducing epistemic injustice, leading to calls to 'decolonise' institutions, curricula and teaching practices. Meanwhile, the practice of epistemic critique also points to potentials for challenge, learning and change. This article offers critical reflections in two distinct moments of time: firstly, reflections on experiences of a cross-site teaching project (2016) involving three of the authors (Mucha, Pesch and Wielenga) from the Departments of Political Science at the Universities of Düsseldorf (Germany) and Pretoria (South Africa) in an academic virtual collaboration project using shared classes and video-conferencing tools to study peace-building, human mobility and mediation. Secondly, the writing process for this article has involved a further collaborative author (Khoo) to comment upon and theorise curriculum-making and teaching experiences. We look at the different contexts in each country and how far the curricula and syllabi at both universities can be supplemented by cross-site teaching elements to deal with epistemic asymmetries in higher education reflexively, while leaning towards a more just knowledge (re)production. Some key challenges and limitations of the cross-site project are also discussed. <![CDATA[<b>'Dark technology', aggressiveness and the question of cyber-ethics</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S2415-04792020000100007&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en The aim of this paper is to assess the role of 'dark technology' in contemporary society, specifically in the context of reprehensible actions in the virtual space of the internet, for example what is known as 'fake porn', circulated in the form of 'deepfake' videos. This entails the construction of pornographic videos with the faces of 'celebrities' grafted on the bodies of pornographic actors, and arguably poses a serious ethical, privacy-related problem. This assessment must be seen against the backdrop of a discussion of the question about what the basis of human volition and action is - nature or culture (nurture) - with reference to a debate on this issue in the 18th century, and further relating it to the work of Darwin on the 'struggle for survival' in the 19th century and to Freud's later work on the instincts (drives). Finally, in light of the findings regarding the possible grounds of human action - specifically those aimed at harming others in online spaces - the further question is posed, namely, what conditions a (code of) cyber-ethics has to satisfy to be able to influence the online behaviour of users significantly - to the point where one might 'reasonably' anticipate a decrease in cyber-crime and cyber-abuse. The answer to this difficult question, derived from critical theorist Jürgen Habermas's discourse ethics and notion of communicative action, assumes the form of an indication how, in a multi-cultural world, linguistic communication and a 'universalistic' discourse ethics can lay the groundwork for cyber-ethics. <![CDATA[<b>The gift as philosophical critique of the social grant system in South Africa</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S2415-04792020000100008&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en The purpose of this article is to undertake a philosophical reflection on the South African social grant system from the perspective of the gift as presented by Marcel Mauss, Alasdair John Milbank, Jean-Luc Marion and Jacques Derrida. Mauss's and Milbank's view of the gift is based on reciprocity and a circular economy that highlights a reductionist understanding of the gift and possibly of the social grant system. On the other hand, Marion's saturated gift emphasises givenness as a transcendent phenomenon that moves beyond the donor-receiver relationship and may end in a mystical theology. The aneconomics of Derrida will be presented as an alternative to these reductions as a function of the appearance of the other. The appearance of the other interrupts economic circularity and opens the possibility of hospitality. This appearance is a continuous event in which case the aporia remains intact. The gift is not an object or finalisation. It is the continuous interface with the other that deconstructs circularity and maintains the dignity and flourishing of the participants. <![CDATA[<b>'We will utterly destroy them... and we will go in and possess the land': reflections on the role of civilian-driven violence in the making of settler genocides</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S2415-04792020000100009&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en This article seeks, in necessarily limited ways, to shed light on a neglected area by exploring aspects of the dynamic behind civilian-driven violence in settler colonial situations globally. Although civilian-driven violence against indigenous peoples was both specific and congenital to frontier relations, and has been intrinsic to settler society after the closing of the frontier, the concept has not featured in any significant way in either genocide studies or investigations of settler conquest. The focus has instead largely been on the roles of metropolitan and colonial states and their military forces. Civilian-driven violence needs to be conceptualised as distinct from other forms -with dynamics and attributes of its own - to enable a more nuanced understanding of how exterminatory impulses toward indigenous peoples have developed in settler colonial situations. This investigation is thus interested both in how civilians organised themselves to commit mass violence against indigenes and in the ways civilian, military, and non-military state structures overlapped, collaborated, and supported one another in the perpetration of genocidal violence against indigenous peoples. The underlying question of why 'ordinary' people are so easily capable of perpetrating unspeakable atrocities, often with equanimity, is of course an extremely broad, highly complex, and multi-dimensional subject that one cannot hope to address in any comprehensive way in a piece of this kind. The intention, rather, is to put the issue on the radar screens of scholars working on settler colonial genocide. <![CDATA[<b>The "warm welcome by South Africa of the stealthy introduction of impunified disregard for and violation of fundamental rights": A legal-political commentary on the SADC Tribunal jurisprudence in South Africa</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S2415-04792020000100010&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en In late 2018, the South African Constitutional Court delivered judgment in Law Society of South Africa v President of the Republic of South Africa, which had been referred to it by the North Gauteng High Court. The matter concerned the constitutionality of former president Jacob Zuma's support for and signing of the infamous 2014 Southern African Development Community (SADC) summit protocol, which has deprived the people of the SADC region from recourse to the SADC Tribunal. In short, the Constitutional Court confirmed both the finding that the signing of the protocol was unconstitutional, and the order for the president's signature to be removed, exactly as the high court had ruled. While welcoming the judgment, this contribution explores whether the ruling offers credible hope to SADC citizens and represents an important milestone for South Africa and the region. Or is it a token victory for constitutional democracy and the rule of law? A discussion of the judgment, supplemented by references to other case law and literature, leads to two conclusions: Firstly, it is evident that the South African constitutional scheme is extensive in reach, and the Constitution is central in the interpretation of treaty and customary international law. While the majority judgment ironically deviates from this, instead focusing more on the dictates of international law, the minority judgment clearly locates the grounds for reviewing the former president's conduct in his failure to respect the rights in our Constitution. Secondly, the order to un-sign the protocol could be seen as an opportunity for South Africa to recommit to justice, the rule of law, human rights and the key values of democracy. The South African president did eventually withdraw South Africa's signature from the protocol but the question remains whether the judgment and the un-signing of the protocol are token victories for maintaining the rule of law, particularly fostering access to justice in a regional court for ordinary citizens, in South Africa and the sub-Saharan region. It is one thing to un-sign a contentious protocol that divested the region's people of an avenue of access to justice; it is another to repair the damage that was caused by the events discussed later which effectively dismantled the SADC tribunal; something about which the political elite has remained silent.