Award for Outstanding Research by a Young Scholar for Hum EDU senior lecturer
Dr Shannon Morreira, Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Humanities Education Development Unit, has been presented with the 2017 Award for Outstanding Research by a Young Scholar by the Faculty of Humanities Research committee. The Award is for her paper, Steps Towards Decolonial Higher Education in Southern Africa? Epistemic Disobedience in the Humanities, published in the Journal of Asian and African Studies (Sage).
“The paper arose from research carried out as part of an NRF-funded project on ‘Decolonising’ the Humanities, on which I am a co-investigator. Assoc. Prof Kathy Luckett, the Director of the Unit in which I’m based, is the PI on the project. There is a lot of decolonial work happening at the level of theory at the moment; the project, and this paper, examines how that high-level theory is being brought into practice in the curriculum” said Dr Morreira.
The article provides an outline of key approaches in decolonial thinking. These ideas are then put to work in a comparative analysis of the disciplinary context, course content and pedagogy of a course in social anthropology and another in education development at UCT.
“I was interested in looking at spaces where academics are deliberately aiming to interrupt existing knowledge hierarchies,” said Dr Morreira.
Morreira argues in favour of “border thinking” and against an Afrocentric stance on curriculum and pedagogy, which is an important stance to take. Instead, she argues that we need to recognise multiple knowledge forms as legitimate. She points out that the decolonial thinking she has identified is more likely to be found in particular courses than driven by the institution itself.
“I am very pleased to receive this award,” said Dr Morreira. “It is great to see the Faculty endorsing reflective research on teaching in this way.”
The award includes R20 000, Vat-exempt research funds to use for research activities. The recipient of the Award is also expected to or is required to write a brief report to the committee detailing their research activities that the award made possible.
Dr. Morreira will be using the funds to continue her research into decolonial pedagogy and curriculum in the Social Sciences. She is on sabbatical for the first half of next year and will be travelling to universities in South Africa and Zimbabwe to conduct comparative research.