In the absence of Rhodes: decolonizing South African universities
Postdoc Vibe Nielsen has contributed to the journal Ethnic and Racial Studies with the article ‘In the absence of Rhodes: decolonizing South African universities’.
The paper examines how the decolonisation of South African universities was imagined and performed by members of the Rhodes Must Fall movement during the removal of the statue of Rhodes on the University of Cape Town in 2015.
Showing how their demands can be seen as a move away from the reconciliation and non-racialist approach of the Rainbow Nation towards a re-racialised debate, in which victimhood is reconfigured, the author argues that, although the movement ended up divided, the reclamation of one of South Africa’s most prominent public spaces provided an opportunity to write or paint something new.
The South African visual artist Sethembile Msezane took this opportunity upon her, when she embodied the Zimbabwe Bird Chapungu and provided an image of what South Africa can also look like: a country whose public spaces also include those of black women and of stories linked to the African continent.
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