Jenni Case reviews Castells in Africa for the journal Higher Education:
“In these current times of fast paced publication and limited attention to yesterday’s news, of heated and polarized debates and too many op-eds, this book is unusual and interesting. It is the record of a sustained and serious academic conversation carried out over nearly 20 years, between a group of South African scholars engaged in thinking about the future of higher education, and a prominent and provocative international scholar. … This book is really useful for the care with which it reports on a long and evolving conversation, and the coherence in the suite of ideas that underpin the work. In the opening chapter of the book, the authors do note that some of their underpinning assumptions around the “knowledge economy” remain “contentious” (p. 6) but they do not elaborate much on the contentions. I am left wondering whether the book would have been enriched by including more of the debate with those who have disagreed with or ignored the work framed by Castells and his perspective. Maybe that is a task for a further book in the African Higher Education Dynamics series published by African Minds! Either way, these editors in their thoughtful assembly of the Castells lectures and their engagement with these have offered us very useful and timely food for thought.”
Sioux McKenna writes in The Conversation about the findings from their study tracking the influence of higher education on young people’s lives, and published by African Minds in Going to University. She concludes that “While universities can’t attend to all societal problems, the data would suggest that institutions have some role to play in forging social cohesion among their own staff and student body.”
Read the full article here.
John Brown Childs, Professor Emeritus in Sociology, University of California Santa Cruz, writes about Cape Town Harmonies:
I have benefited from your openness to hearing the sounds, sights, and deep currents being expressed in the musics of the Cape Town Malay Choirs and Klopse.
I greatly appreciate and have learned much from this openness to the physicality and the alert mindful creativity of those who make this music that emerges from both universality and “locatable distinctiveness”.
Moreover, your emphasis on “cultural practices” as a wide “gamut of reactions to oppression, many of them pervaded by ambivalence”, is very illuminating. Indeed “ambivalence” is much too underrated in the social sciences. The ways in which the Choirs navigate countervailing currents is quite remarkable.
The ability of both of you to be there, to experience these “local imaginaries” presents your readers with a wonderful multi-dimensional, richly flavoured comprehension of this Cape Town world, for which I thank you.
I would also like to thank you for the chapter on appropriation. It is a very helpful analytical overview that will be useful in several discussions with which I am involved.
Knowledge for Justice was recently launched at the Southern African-Nordic Centre (SANORD) conference in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. The conference ran from 28 November to 1 December 2017 under the theme “The Role of Universities in Research & Technology Transfer to Improve Livelihoods in Southern Africa”.
In a recent review of The Delusion of Knowledge Transfer, Mark Paterson expertly summed up of the role of donor funding, capacity development and governments in African Higher education:
Indeed, as a new study published by African Minds has revealed, broken, inadequate relationships between national governments and their local academic communities can undermine independent, democratic policy-making, leaving states prey to the agendas of foreign powers
In worst-case scenarios, foreign donors — despite their proclaimed intentions — can effectively take over national policymaking in young democracies such as South Africa and Tanzania, say German social scientists Susanne Koch and Peter Weingart. In their exploration of how the technocrats who are tied to foreign aid packages can influence government plans, they found that, without sufficient financial clout, administrative capacity and the support of a strong local academic community, governments can be rendered quite helpless in the face of imported policy prescriptions, with disastrous results. read more
“Overall this is an excellent publication, one that most people will want to read. It shows why the knowledge production functions were not developed historically in sub-Saharan Africa, and lays out what needs to be done to get them moving, with data based on evidence. It presents especially rich and very relevant material which I have found extremely useful, as will others. As someone who has done a great deal of quantitative analysis, including survey research, and has worked on the international collection of university data, I know how very difficult it is to collect accurate and useful data of this kind. The HERANA group and CHET are to be congratulated on the care and time they took in preparing this study, gathering and checking the data, and presenting it in this book. The study breaks new ground, is a major contribution to our understanding of higher education in sub-Saharan Africa and will significantly reward the reader’s attention.” Fred Hayward, South African Journal of Science 111(9/10). http://dx.doi. org/10.17159/sajs.2015/a0120