In the absence of Rhodes: decolonizing South African universities

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This paper examines the ways in which the decolonization of South African universities was imagined and performed by members of the Rhodes Must Fall movement during the removal of the statue of Rhodes on the University of Cape Town in 2015. Showing how their demands can be seen as a move away from the reconciliation and non-racialist approach of the Rainbow Nation towards a re-racialized debate, in which victimhood is reconfigured, I argue that, although the movement ended up divided, the reclamation of one of South Africa’s most prominent public spaces provided an opportunity to write or paint something new. The South African visual artist Sethembile Msezane took this opportunity upon her, when she embodied the Zimbabwe Bird Chapungu and provided an image of what South Africa can also look like: a country whose public spaces also include those of black women and of stories linked to the African continent.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEthnic and Racial Studies
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)396-414
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jan 2021

    Research areas

  • Faculty of Social Sciences - South Africa, decolonization, re-racialization, Rhodes Must Fall, University of Cape Town, Sethembile Msezane

ID: 255053729