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Chair for Critical Studies in Higher Education Transformation

Dr Mohammad Shabangu
Postdoctoral Researcher

Mohammad Shabangu holds a joint postdoctoral fellowship in the Chair for Critical Studies in Higher Education Transformation at Nelson Mandela University and the English Department at Stellenbosch University. Prior to that, he was a research fellow at Humboldt University-Berlin.

His research interests fall at the intersection of contemporary African literature, postcolonial studies, world literature, cultural studies and social and political thought. He is interested in a broad range of topics, from theories of globalisation to conceptions of state sanctioned legal violence in a post-apartheid context, as well as topics in the black radical tradition and imaginings of postcolonial futurity. His current book project, adapted from his doctoral dissertation, works through selected literary texts by several contemporary African migrant writers, among them, Teju Cole, Tayie Selasi and NoViolet Bulawayo, to suggest that, far from a concern with a pre-critical identity politics, such writing refuses the taxonomies by which African writing is sometimes understood. Their very existence in the arena of world literature stages a question which preoccupies him: how do we make sense of the supposed conflict between the social and artistic impulses that drive production of contemporary African writing?

His articles have appeared or are forthcoming in various peer-reviewed journals, including The Journal of Commonwealth and Postcolonial Studies, Safundi: The Journal of South African and American Studies, and South African Music Studies. Arguing for broad conception of literature, his next project is an investigation of the work by Gayatri Spivak, with an emphasis on the idea of instrumentalising an aesthetic education in order to ‘train the imagination for epistemological performance’. Specifically, he is interested in the conditions of possibility for the ‘rearrangement’ of collective desires and an education that can produce flexible political imaginations.

To this end, he tries to understand the relation between ideological replication, educational institutions, particularly universities, and the persistence of inequality and violence in the global order, as well as to consider the extent to which activists in the global south appear to have taken the ethical impulse of post-liberation subjects for granted.

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