Africanising Institutional Culture: What Is Possible and Plausible

In Pedro Tabensky & Sally Matthews (eds.), Being at Home: : Race, Institutional Culture and Transformation at South African Higher Education Institutions. University of KwaZulu-Natal Press. pp. 242-272 (2015)

Thaddeus Metz
University of Johannesburg
Since the transition to a constitutional order, in what respects have cultures in higher education institutions in South Africa become Africanised, and, going forward, how should they be? In this chapter I provide an overview of the major different forms that Africanisation of institutional culture could take, and I then indicate the respects in which South African universities have or have not taken them on board over the past 20 years. In addition, I provide the first comprehensive critical discussion of the major reasons that have been given for Africanising. Specifically, I distinguish between five rationales for Africanising institutional culture, namely, those appealing to relativism, democracy, redress, civilisation and identity, bring out their different implications for the forms that Africanisation should take, and argue that some of these rationales are philosophically much more promising than others. I conclude that the rationales of redress, civilisation and identity together make a compelling case for a moderate form of Africanising the institutional culture of public universities, one that would be much more robust than what has appeared so far on the democratic landscape in South Africa.
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