College of Humanities

Highlights from a public lecture delivered by Saleem Badat, Research Professor in the Humanities Institute.
Highlights from a public lecture delivered by Saleem Badat, Research Professor in the Humanities Institute.

Public Lecture contests Global North Hegemony in Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences Knowledge-Making

The College of Humanities, in collaboration with the Humanities Institute recently hosted a public lecture byProfessor Saleem Badat on Contesting Global North Hegemony in Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences (AHSS) Knowledge-Making: Research On, For, With, In, and of Africa. The event was held at the Howard College Theatre.

Badat, Research Professor in the Humanities Institute, highlighted the various challenges and interventions required for African arts, humanities, and social sciences scholarship to thrive and overcome its subordinate position in global scholarship. ‘The critical actors and agents of renewal, development and transformation must be African scholars, universities, national states, and pan-African institutions,’ he said.

Badat argued that the AHSS must cultivate and sustain institutional capacities for educating and scholarship; promote innovative decolonial curriculum and pedagogic initiatives; build postgraduate programmes that produce outstanding graduates; support research institutes, centres, units, programmes and projects, and strengthen scholarly collaboration, networks, and publishing.

Given the increasing critique of the structure of the knowledge domain by Global South scholars, Badat further argued that efforts to erode Eurocentric epistemic domination should be first and foremost to decolonise knowledge, and advance epistemic justice. These, he says, are necessary for African scholarship to flourish.

Badat posits that scholars, universities, and research institutions in the Global South and those in the Global North should forge appropriate strategies and tactics that systematically challenge, erode, and overcome Global North hegemony in knowledge-making in the arts, humanities, and social sciences.

He believes that while this is an enormous task, it is both critical and necessary. ‘Undertaking this work is about much more than geographic or social location. It is fundamentally about thinking, researching, and writing from a decolonial epistemic location.’

The challenge for universities seeking to become African is to build new academic and institutional cultures that genuinely respect epistemological difference and diversity and social justice in knowledge-making. ‘We need thoughtfully designed and implemented undergraduate programmes taught by dedicated scholars that enable our students to graduate with the capability to think theoretically and imaginatively, gather and analyse information with rigour, critique and construct alternatives, andcommunicate effectively orally and in writing.’

Another requirement that Badat raised is creative scholarship that deconstructs ‘the standard narratives based upon the universalisation of parochial European histories; provincializing ideas that are based on European experiences but universalised globally; reconstructing global narratives on the basis of the empirical connections forged through histories of colonialism, enslavement, dispossession and appropriation and building counterhegemonic understandings, and uses of Eurocentric concepts such as human rights, the rule of law, democracy, and socialism.’

In his concluding remarks, Badat said, ‘Alongside coordinated efforts, there is always scope for “everyday acts of resurgence” by scholars, universities, and other actors who are committed to an equitable new global knowledge order and new social order.’

The lecture is based on a forthcoming chapter in Abdoulaye Sounaye and Kai Kresse (ed.) (2022) Thinking the Re-Thinking of the World. Berlin: ZMO-Studies volume 43.

The full lecture can be viewed on YouTube

Public Lecture by Prof. Mohamed Saleem Badat