Statement on the DSI-NRF Flagship

The Flagship on Critical Thought in African Humanities of the Centre for Humanities Research (CHR) at the University of the Western Cape (UWC) constitutes an arena for scholarly exchange, artistic creation, and public inquiry into African political subjectivity, art and society, and technology and the human.

The Flagship is designed to host scholars and students from South African universities, public institutions and national and international research bodies in a collaborative initiative to forge the next generation of humanities scholars and arts practitioners, committed to the demands of building a post-apartheid South Africa. Located in the Centre for Humanities Research, the flagship is founded on three research thematics: Aesthetic Education, the Becoming Technical of the Human, and Migrating Violence.

As part of its commitments to public engagement, the Flagship regularly convenes public lectures and hosts a Factory of the Arts. Taking as its vantage a perspective from the South as indispensable for the reconstitution of the humanities globally, this project draws lessons for the post-apartheid by being alert to how an African humanities and postcolonial criticism mediates our understanding of what it means to be human in a technologically transforming world. Specifically, the Flagship works in a unique approach towards an idea of the “post-apartheid” that marks a departure from apartheid’s constructions of difference, while opening a space to re-imagine a future beyond the race, class, and gender cleavages that continue to bedevil South African society.

The proposed formation of the Dullah Omar Centre for Critical Thought in African Humanities (DOCCTAH) and the Factory of the Arts will work in conjunction with a range of humanities centres and institutes locally and internationally towards reigniting interest in the humanities in a pedagogical project aimed at nurturing future generations of educators and art practitioners in South Africa. By locating a humanities inquiry in areas where apartheid encountered a specific limit, the Flagship strives to enhance the critical potential of the humanities in South Africa and beyond.

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Flagship Launch Gallery

The Flagship launch on 2 September 2015 at the University of the Western Cape featured speeches by Vice-Chancellor and Rector of UWC Prof. Tyrone Pretorius and Minister Naledi Pandor, among other distinguished guests, and members of the CHR. For the occasion, CHR partners Handspring Puppet Company displayed their world-renowned War Horse puppet, which was accompanied by the giant Mantis puppet made for the 2014 Barrydale Parade. The evening culminated in a performance by Artists in Residence Ukwanda Puppets and Designs Art Collective and a recital by Derek Gripper and Artist in Residence Reza Khota.

Watch the speeches

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