With the end of 2021 drawing closer, we asked our contributors to share highlights of their work from the year. Specifically, work that engages with the university in critical ways. Below are the responses. We hope that they provide you with a taste of some of the great work being done in the field of Critical University Studies.

Earlier this year, the Engagement and Transformation Portfolio (ETP) Office, in close collaboration with the Chair for Critical Studies in Higher Education Transformation (CriSHET), introduced an Occasional Paper Series under the theme: The Transformative, Responsive University.

Earlier this year, the Engagement and Transformation Portfolio (ETP) Office, in close collaboration with the Chair for Critical Studies in Higher Education Transformation (CriSHET), introduced an Occasional Paper Series under the theme: The Transformative, Responsive University.

HE Disability Inclusion Research in the Global South

Are Global North Research Practices Blocking Progress of Higher Education Disability Inclusion Research in the Global South?

The Chair for Critical Studies in Higher Education Transformation (CriSHET) was launched in 2018 as a strategic outfit to drive the transformation agenda of Nelson Mandela University. 

ACUSAfrica hosted its first colloquium in February of 2021. Entitled "Critical University Studies and the Battle Against Global Racism", the aim of the colloquium was to build the ACUSAfrica network to advance critical and radical approaches to the study of higher education through a combination of practical and intellectual work.

Lord Peter Hain’s new book A Pretoria Boy, is being released in South Africa this week by Jonathan Ball Publishers. Lord Hain is an Honorary Professor with the Chair for Critical Studies in Higher Education Transformation (CriSHET). 

We are pleased to announce that one of our postdoctoral fellows, Dr Desire Chiwandire, recently had his chapter on “Students with Disabilities’ Lack of Opportunity for Sport and Recreational Activities: The Case of South African Universities” published in an Edited Volume Book by the University of Rochester Press. The title of the book is ‘Disability in Africa: Inclusion, Care, and the Ethics of Ubuntu’ and it is co-edited by Toyin Falola (UT Austin) and Nic Hamel (UT Austin).

“Reggae music inspired Rhodes University graduate to advocate for people living with disabilities through his PhD research”

“This month marks the launch of the ACUSAfrica website. Emerging from the Winter School hosted last year, and driven by the Critical University Studies (CUS) network, the website will serve as a dialectical space to foreground scholarship for advancing CUS across Africa in dialogue with scholarship from across the global South and excluded North.

Underpinning the network’s work of the critical study of higher education is the endeavour to find ‘other’ ways to study universities which are capable of thinking plural forms of emancipatory higher education imaginations and futures.

CriSHET has been involved in the conceptualisation and creation of the website, with a number of staff members serving as active contributors, and is looking forward to advancing Critical University Studies across Africa through this exciting new project.”


The Headman, the Regent and the ‘Long Walk to Freedom’

by Philip Bonner

This investigation into the Mandela ‘dynasty’ in Mveso and Qunu, in the Mthatha district of the former Transkei, and the Thembu kingdom of which it was a part, was the result of a request to the author by the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

In South Arica, a group of academics have published a seminal book entitled Decolonisation in Universities: The Politics of Knowledge, edited by Jonathan Jansen, a Distinguished Professor of Education at the University of Stellenbosch, South Africa and President of the Academy of Science of South Africa.

Critical Human Rights Education: Advancing Social-Justice-Oriented Educational Praxes, the latest publication in the Contemporary Philosophies and Theories in Education book series (COPT, volume 13), is co-authored by Michalinos Zembylas, professor in Education from the University of Cyprus, and André Keet, Chair of CriSHET at Nelson Mandela University. Zembylas is also an Honorary Professor at the Chair for Critical Studies in Higher Education Transformation (CriSHET).

The Archives and Exhibition Centre of Nelson Mandela University presents Compl [y,x]: The Gender Debate. This debate, which highlights  gender in relation to Mandela, is a supplement to the [Provoke/Ukuchukumisa/Daag-Uit] exhibition that took place earlier this year and formed part of the University’s Mandela Centenary Celebrations, as well as the Dalibhunga: This Time? That Mandela? colloquium.

Bird Street exhibition: ‘we are present’. The opening session of the Dalibhunga: This time? That Mandela? colloquium took place in the spacious art gallery of Nelson Mandela University’s Bird Street Campus, surrounded by artworks produced in response to the colloquium. 
The exhibition, titled ‘we are present’ featured works produced by staff and postgraduate student designers, photographers, sculptors, printmakers and painters from the Department of Visual Arts at Nelson Mandela University’s School of Music, Art and Design (SoMAD).
The colloquium Dalibhunga: This time? That Mandela? — held from March 6 to 8 at Nelson Mandela University (NMU) — was essentially a conversation to explore, debate and discuss what the proposed Transdisciplinary Institute for Mandela Studies (TIMS) could look like, including the main themes that should be explored within it.
The name “Dalibhunga” was the name Mandela was given after undergoing initiation, meaning “creator of the council” or “convenor of the dialogue”. It was chosen for the colloquium as it was the bringing together of a community of scholars and practitioners to debate and discuss Mandela as a social figure, and how the formulation of a Critical Mandela Studies programme could play a meaningful and practical role concerning the challenges of time.
In her opening speech at the Dalibhunga: This time? That Mandela? colloquium, which ran from March 6 to 8, Nelson Mandela University Vice-Chancellor Sibongile Muthwa said the university and society needed to be “haunted” by Mandela the social figure, as a means of pulling together past and present, to create a new and better future.
“[Mandela] haunts us in our endeavours to re-imagine and reclaim the university,” she said, steps that were necessary to transform the university and its relationship to society, and approach differently the problems society faces.
The International Graduate Centre for the Study of Culture (GCSC) at the Justus Liebig University Giessen in Germany will be hosting Prof André Keet, Chair for Critical Studies in Higher Education Transformation (CriSHET) at Nelson Mandela University. He will deliver a keynote in the GCSC Lecture Series entitled “Racism’s Knowledge/Culture – Is a Critical Decolonial Project Possible?”. The lecture will take place on 2 July 2019 and forms part of the diverse set of research interests pursued within the GCSC.

Verne Harris, Head of Leadership and Knowledge Development at the Nelson Mandela Foundation and Adjunct Professor at Nelson Mandela University in the Chair for Critical Studies in Higher Education Transformation (CriSHET), has recently been featured in The Encyclopedia of Archival Writers, 1515-2015 (2019). This seminal reference work, edited by Luciana Duranti and Patricia C. Franks, spans more than half a century of archival writers and their contributions to history.

The Nelson Mandela Foundation’s Head of Leadership and Knowledge Development Prof Verne Harris delivered the Annual Follet Lecture at the Dominican University in Chicago, Illinois, in the United States on Tuesday, 16 April 2019. The title for the Lecture was “A Time to Remember, A Time to Forget: Fred Hampton, Nelson Mandela and the Work of Memory”.

What should an archive for Nelson Mandela look like? What does it need to tell us about the man and his life, and the way he continues to impact our society? What happens when critical information is erased from the archive? And how can we use the archive to grapple with the great questions of our time, including the decolonising of curricula? These were just some of the questions raised and debated at arguably the most contentious session at the Dalibhunga: This time? That Mandela? colloquium at Nelson Mandela University, which was simply titled The Archive.
On one Nelson Mandela University campus, students and recent graduates debated the positioning of Nelson Mandela and his social justice ideals in the #FeesMustFall movement, while on another campus, a protest around fees was in full swing. That was the backdrop to the Mandela@MustFall session at the Mandela Colloquium, held from March 6 to 8 at Nelson Mandela University. The opinions were varied and at times critical — some seeing the “dancing grandfatherly” image of Mandela they grew up with as far removed from current student activism.
There are many reasons why the Nelson Mandela Foundation and the Human Sciences Research Council agreed to come on board with Nelson Mandela University to jointly establish the new Transdisciplinary Institute of Mandela Studies (TIMS) at the university. Nelson Mandela Foundation’s Director of Archive and Dialogue, Verne Harris, said the university was one of around 60 institutions worldwide authorised to carry Madiba’s name but “it was very seldom that an institution carrying the name comes to us with a proposal to do really meaningful work”.
When Nelson Mandela University dropped “Metropolitan” from its name in 2017, it was no longer
named after a city, but the person, Nelson Mandela, the global icon for social justice.
And there was a huge responsibility that went with that, a point emphasised by then Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa at the official ceremony marking the name change, who said: "The decision to become Nelson Mandela University is not simply an exercise in corporate rebranding".