Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Andre Keet's “Refractions: social theory, human rights and philosophy”

Brief comments and reflections on Prof Andre Keet’s presentation “Refractions: social theory, human rights and philosophy”, at UJ (Faculty of Education, Post-Graduate Centre & SOTL seminar) on 21 May 2015.

I had the privilege to ‘interview’ Andre during 2002, exploring the relation between social cohesion and human rights education when he was still at the SAHRC and busy with his doctoral study.  I have been following his publications since then around these topics and was very delighted to be able to attend this opportunity to hear him for the first time in a formal presentation.

He started his presentation by introducing the UFS Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice where he is the Director since 2011, and presented the various themes, research areas and also mentioned the start of an interdisciplinary Master’s programme in Social Cohesion as of 2015.  For more details:  http://institute.ufs.ac.za

Andre reminded us about shared vulnerabilities on a social-economic grid; to continue the search for different possibilities of knowledge formation and transformation around themes of social cohesion, reconstruction and social justice, human rights etc., instead of just critiquing for the sake of it and to be able to do things differently as prescribed by the master narratives (e.g. capitalism & human rights). 

He highlighted that any knowledge can be presented as transformative in the current curriculum by exploring for example its possible power base, privilege and hegemonic relations. 

Andre also encouraged research on for example, the nature and function of Research Ethics Committees, who serve on it, what gets approved or not and why. 

As his presentation is only the beginning of an ongoing series to develop dialogue around various themes, I am indeed looking forward attending them and reading the various articles he revered to in his talk when available, in particular to read more about the six sets of integrated economics, i.e.: material (benefits, rewards, reproduction of academic privileges), administrative (regulating powers, access, rules), socio-cultural (beliefs, customs), effective (job security, anxieties, fears, anger, AA), intellectual (access to games and rules), and politics (competing ideologies) in Higher Education.

Being at UJ for two and a half years now (as part of a 3yr contract), this has been the first seminar that was truly represented by people from many different departments and faculties! 

Marlene de Beer (Social Work)

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