Humanities and Social Sciences in the era of a Pandemic.

The National Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences (NIHSS) opened its virtual Inaugural Humanities and Social Science Alumni conference today, Wednesday 04 November 2020. The maiden alumni occasion runs during this year’s virtual Annual National Doctoral Conference 2020. The theme is titled “Humanities and Social Science in the era of pandemic”.

Prof Sarah Mosoetsa, the CEO of the National Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences   opened the session reflecting on the theme and the complexities of the COVID-19 pandemic. "The hope of the alumni was that the new rituals ushered in by COVID-19 will sustain and not dismantle humanity," says Prof Sarah Mosoetsa

In the opening session, three of the editors, Prof Edith Phaswana, Prof Hugo Canham and Prof Grace Khunou, tackled the issues faced during the process of writing their award-winning book “Black Academic Voices”, published by HSRC Press.

The book captures the personal accounts of lived experiences of black academics at South African universities in the context of the ongoing debate for transformation and decolonisation of higher education.

The panellists during the session commented on the challenges they faced as black academics.

“We were faced with challenges of the language, English, that we were never taught even before coming to the university, that made me feel like it wasn’t my space”, explained Prof Grace Khunou.

Prof Canham mentioned that in the book he describes his experience as rage. Rage of being black and witnessing being black in the world. The book has been crafted in such a way that the contributors find themselves oscillating between the different life trajectories as students and as a member of faculty of historically white universities.

In closing Prof Phaswana said “Don’t be afraid to put something on the table, stand up you have the right scale and competence and don’t be afraid to say send me”.

Black Academic Voices: The South African experience - winner for Best Non-Fiction Edited Volume at the 2020 Humanities and Social Sciences Awards


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