Friday, 20 March 2015

Motala seminar on critical posthumanism

Siddique Motala held a seminar on Thursday 13 March with the topic ‘Geomatics and a social justice curriculum’.  Motala, who is a doctoral student of Vivienne Bozalek at CPUT, develops a critical posthumanist perspective in geomatics. He queries the dominant discourse in the field and asks critical questions about the ways geomatics education could contribute towards social justice and how it could develop affective, social and creative practitioners. These are indeed very important issues in the broader field of engineering that is usually guided by technical principles of effectiveness and efficiency and which largely ignores the fact that the manipulation of material is also the shaping of society (Bijker & Law, 1994). Motala deploys storytelling as a pedagogical device to enhance students’ awareness of social and political issues. The aim is to create decolonising and counter-hegemonic discourses and practices in the field. Motala’s project is, firstly to challenge the doxa of the current curriculum such as the colonialist assumptions about land ownership and the lack of an ethical component. He then wants to draw on students’ subjugated (indigenous) knowledges in order to challenge this hegemony. The project of Motala is conducted within the framework of critical posthumanism as presented by Braidotti (2013). It is important to note that posthumanism is not an anti-humanism, but rather wants to recognize the entanglements of humans and nonhumans. Posthumanism is a critique of the human- and environmental devastation brought about by human-centered knowledges and practices. The critical posthuman approach allows Motala to investigate the ways in which humans, heroic stories, practices of surveying, policies, land and technologies participate in the creation and entrenchment of inequalities. One issue that requires further reflection, though, is the possibilities of a posthuman conception of storytelling. While storytelling is a humanistic construct, the question is how nonhumans (such as the technological digitising and visualising agents, open access software and narrative discourses) actively participate in the construction of different stories that make the role of power more explicit.  A reflexive question could also be asked about the effects of the research technologies (coding, discourse analysis) on the production of knowledge. This project is part of SOLT’s interest in social justice in higher education since it aims to develop a critical pedagogy in the much needed field of engineering. For the expansion of the critical project outside education, humanities and the social sciences, critical posthumanism is most appropriate.

You can watch a version of Siddique's presentation on You Tube at:

1 comment:

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