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PODCAST: The World as It Could Be: African Psychology for the Inferiorised

The ACUSAfrica podcast shares content around Advancing Critical University Studies.

The second episode captures the presentation given by Professor Kopano Ratele on the 17th of May 2018 entitled "The World as It Could Be: African Psychology for the Inferiorised" as part of the Ukutshintshwa kweendlela/[Re] Directions seminar series. This series is organised by the Chair for Critical Studies in Higher Education Transformation (CriSHET) at Nelson Mandela University in Gqeberha, South Africa.

Please click here to listen to the podcast.


Under what conditions would you consider excellent, or even satisfactory, a thesis that quotes mainly authors from Western Europe or North America? Given the work we do as professors, we read many dissertations in our areas of interests. All in all, many dissertations from South African students, black and white, some of which I am asked to examine and others that I read to keep abreast of developments, are more than just satisfactory when compared to some of the works I have read from universities outside of Africa. However, because of the colonial and apartheid inferiorisation of intellectual work from all South African, and the internalised inferiorisation that drives apartheid hierarchisation between historically white and black universities, both university teachers, students and administrators often fail to recognise the warped and alienating standards we have set for ourselves.

Here, then, is where we find the reproduction of what the cross-cultural psychologists Harry Triandis once said about psychologists and students in Africa: many of them have an inferiority complex vis-à-vis America and Western Europe. While the idea of the West itself and Euroamerican psychology in particular as the standards against which we measure ourselves and our psychological is a key problem, what I wish to consider is how one teaches and learns to do superb and meaningful not in the world as it is but as it could be. I examine how one might reckon with the fact that even while we strive for a world as it could be, a world in which we are reflected in our fullness, that decolonised world is not fully born yet, and we live and teach and learn and research for change in the world as it is.


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