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Building the ACUSAfrica Network: 2021 colloquium

Updated: May 10, 2021

On the first day of the 2021 Advancing Critical University Studies colloquium, we focussed our discussion on building the network. This post provides a video of the event and hyperlinked material of the contributors, for those who wish to engage and read further.

To contextualise the day, below is a page from the programme booklet.

An edited video recording of the event's presentation is accessible below.


Across the African continent

Michael Okyerefo began the discussions by situating the ACUSAfrica network within 'a Connecting Web of Ideas':

•The ACUSAfrica Network is ordered to re-claim what is truly African, the university.

•The history of the African university has been lying on the shelf, buried in such massive layers of dust as to have its birth right usurped.

•The ‘university’ as a concept and institution in Africa is perhaps the oldest in the world; it predates the European university imported into Africa in the 19th century as part of the colonial project; a model that has almost obliterated the African university.

•That Africa had universities prior to colonialism, serving as colossal cradles of knowledge production is hardly known and celebrated in mainstream discourse on the academy.

A Model for all Time

•Ancient universities - Kairouine in Fez, Morocco (857 AD), Al Azhar in Cairo (972 AD), and Sankoré in Timbuktu (c13th - c16th). Timbuktu manuscripts?

•Couldn’t the master/disciple, scholar/student model characteristic of Sankoré; the thirst for knowledge and ideas, benefit the African university today?

•Thus, the central question of this Colloquium (our Network) – what might an ‘African’ critical study of higher education look like?

•As African ingenuity in fighting COVID-19 has shown, if the African university would intensify dialogue with African society to solve its myriads of problems life would be worth living on the continent.

•ACUSAfrica should critique, draw on and share best practices in pre-colonial (ancient) and post-colonial (contemporary) African universities.

•Best practices across Africa should form a web of ideas to dismantle the imposed borders for the common good and the advancement of Africa.


South Africa

Aslam Fataar presented on the South African chapter of the network, which will be cordinated by himself (within Stellenbosch University), Andre Keet (within Nelson Mandela University) and Michael Cross (within the University of Johannesburg. In a future blog, we will upload the video of this presentation for you to his discussion of this vision and plans.


The ACUSAfrica Website

Dina Zoe Belluigi presented about the website which was launched in September 2020. She explained about the ethos of the site, the ways in which contributions were structured, and how it sought to be a hub to share and connect those invested individuals, collectives and networks both under and beyond the ACUSAfrica umbrella.

Contributions are welcome - you are invited to contact Dina at with news of events and calls, for blog posts about your projects and research, or to propose joining us as contributors to the network.



Jason Arday and Dina Zoe Belluigi discussed the first book project of the network, which is formulated around the question How is Critical University Studies to be ‘advanced’? A call was made, and from those over 20 expressions of interest and proposals were received. Some of the areas that they relate to include interpretative frames; histories; intellectual formations; decolonization; Africanisation; indigeneity; sustainable development; different disciplinary lenses; across the world. Chapter submissions are being submitted for peer review from end of February to April.


Webinar series

Jenny du Preez introduced the webinar series that will offer opportunities throughout the year for focused discussion of studies or issues related to Advancing Critical University Studies, that bring scholars from across the network and also different stages of their careers, to engage. Proposals for such webinars are invited, and for hosting such events.

The first webinar, organised by Jenny du Preez and Roxana Chiappa Baros and hosted by CriSHET of Nelson Mandela University, is coming up on the 17th of March, with the talk outlined below, with input from speakers in Bangladesh, Canada, Chile and the UK. Register here.


Broader scholarly connections

All the network contributors were invited, prior to the colloquium, to prepare a brief outline of their related work and networks during this session. While the videos of their discussions are to come, please see the hyperlinks for your access. Contact the named contributor if you do not have access to the articles cited, or if you wish to make contact. Their details are on the contributor's page of this webite.

Sharon Stein

Developing Stamina for Decolonizing Higher Education Workbook (coming soon):

•Convening a group of graduate students interested in decolonization and abolition

•Continued work with the Gesturing Towards Decolonial Futures Collective:

•Continued growth of the Critical Internationalization Studies Network:

•Article (in press): “What can decolonial and abolitionist critiques teach the field of higher education?” Review of Higher Education

•Book (in progress): Confronting the Colonial Foundations of US Higher Education

•New research project: Decolonizing STEM Fields and Health Professions

Michalinos Zembylas

•Refusal as Affective and Pedagogical Practice in Higher Education Decolonization: A Modest Proposal

•Affective strategies of abolition pedagogies in higher education: Dismantling the affective governmentality of the colonial university

Dina Zoe Belluigi

South Africa - India

‘Transformation towards sustainability in higher education: Interactional dynamics in gender and intersectionality’

•TRANSFORMATION FOR SUSTAINABILITY? Gender and its intersections within participation in higher education, Colloquium at theSchool of Women’s Studies Jadavpur University, Kolkata, India, 10-11 February 2020. Colloquium booklet.

•Dhawan, N.B., Belluigi, D. Z., and Idahosa, G. E. 2020. Gender Equity in Indian Higher Education: Vision of Institutional Leadership, paper presented at the International Conference on Gender, Language and Education: Equality and Diversity Issues in Asia and Beyond, hosted by The Education University of Hong Kong, 2-4 Dec. Link

•Belluigi, D. Z., Dhawan, N. B. and Idahosa, G. E. 2020. "Sustainability is based on the faith we have towards the work that we are doing": The conditions of academic citizenry in South Africa and India, paper presented at Africa Knows! It is time to decolonise minds, 2-4 December, Conference of the Leiden African Studies Association. Link.

Counter // Narratives

Belluigi, D. Z. & Meistre, B. A. 2021. Authoring author-ity in transition? The ‘Counter // Narratives of Higher Education’ Project. Video paper for the conference ‘Visualising Social Changes: Seen and Unseen’ of the International Visual Sociology Association Annual Conference. Available at

For access to the artworks, see

Post/conflict academia

•Abdullateef, S., Ajaj, N., Anis, R., Shaban, F., Belluigi, D. Z. and Parkinson, T. 2020. Sharing the burdens of responsibility for a better future in transnational academia: Reflections of displaced Syrian academics on an atypical academic development event. ETL Learning and Teaching Journal, Vol 2. No 2, pp. 393-396. Link.

•Belluigi, D. Z. & Parkinson, T. 2020. Building solidarity through comparative lived experiences of post/conflict: Reflections on two days of dialogue. Education and Conflict Review - Special Issue: Rebuilding Syrian higher education for a stable future 3, pp.16-24. Link

• Project this year: ‘LIVING SYSTEMS: LIVelihoods and INtegration in SYria and Southern Turkey: Evidence, Models and Strategies.’ AHRC funded.

See here for call for chapter proposals for ‘Being in Shadow and Light: Academics in Conflict and Post-Conflict Higher Education’


Su-ming Khoo

Collaboration - for disciplinary humility … towards transdisciplinary courage


•April 2020 IRC B-CAUSE Phase 1 identified 45 elements of equity-focused quality HE, 6 core barriers/options, 3 action areas of investments, insights, and pedagogies

•June 2020 "Internationalization for an Uncertain Future: Setting the Agenda for Critical Internationalization Studies” (Sharon Stein) Repair of Public HE


•Oct 2019 Convivial Thinking – [LSE Millennium 2019] – Acta Academica Special Focus (6 articles)

•Oct 2020 JIWS Special Issue In Medias Res – in the Middle of Decoloniality (16 Articles) link

•Development Studies DSAI Response to COVID19 and Global South Open Access Book

•EC Bridge 47 Knowledge Exchange Partnership/EADI. Lifting the Floor; Forthcoming GSE SI Article Mobilising GCE for Alternative Futures


•ERASMUS-DELTA Nov-Dec 2019 Disciplinary excellence – addressing planetary climate and migration crises (Rights from Below/ border thinking). article / Article Symposium 16 April 2021

•Sep 2020 EU COST CA19129 Development Theory, Research& Practice/ WG2 Teaching

•Connected Sociologies Curriculum Project. Lecture: Colonial Dispossession


Christi van der Westhuizen

Edited volume titled Making Visible the Invisible: Institutional Cultures in South African Higher Education

•SUNMedia (Stellenbosch); Critical Studies in Higher Education Transformation Series; Series Editor A Keet

•Co-editors B Magoqwana, Q Maqabuka, N Mkhize.

•Institutional Culture as an organisational phenomenon is notoriously hard to grasp, also conceptually. The proposed book seeks to gain a grip on Institutional Culture with a view to confronting exclusionary, oppressive and violent practices and overturning the inequitable modes of knowing and doing that continue to bedevil universities in South Africa. Change is necessary in the very belly of the university.

•Contributions from NMU, UCT, SU, UFS, Wits, UP, RU.

•Aiming to finalise manuscript mid-2021.


Andre Keet and Luan Staphorst

Critical University Studies /NRF Project


§Objective 1. To map the field of CUS in comparison to Higher Education Studies (HES) and Higher Education Transformation Studies (HETS) in South Africa and elsewhere and deconstruct the discursive fields that frame higher education transformation in South Africa.

§Objective 2. To analyse critically the research and programmatic propositions of CUS, nationally and globally, and build collaborations and research networks.

§Objective 3. To connect South African, and other, scholars to explore the intellectual and pragmatic value of CUS and develop ideas for strengthening the sub-field; as a key contribution to alternative studies of university transformation.


§Objective 1: Our research report on mapping CUS in relation to HES and HETS will be published in March.

§Objective 2: The building of the ACUSAfrica Network, is ongoing, and the launch of the ACUSAfrica Website in 2020 is a key step in this programme.

§Objective 3: This objective is being met through the continued unfolding of projects and networks such as the ACUSAfrica Network, the ACUSAfrica Website, and events such as this Colloquium.

During their presentation, Luan shared his review of the field, offering this comparison between Higher Education Studies, Higher Education Transformation Studies and Critical University Studies. He noted that the differences seem to lie in their dispositions.

They also noted the divergent traditions of Critical University Studies.

They discussed how the scholars/hip within the project related; and discussed the how the cordination of ACUS activities was supported by CriSHET team, led by the different contributors at this time. A visualisation of this is reproduced below.


The ACUSAfrica colloquium 'Critical University Studies and

the Battle Against Global Racism' ran from the 15th- 18th February 2021. It was hosted online, as an an initiative of Nelson Mandela University, Queen’s University Belfast and the University of Ghana. For the full programme of the colloquium see below.

ACUSAfrica colloquium programme_Feb 2021
Download • 910KB

Videos of all three days events will be shared soon on this website.


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