‘From History Project to Transdisciplinary Research’: District Six as a case study
Davids, Mogamat N.
MetadataShow full item record
This article expounds how a National Research Foundation (NRF) history project evolved into a transdisciplinary study. The article develops a case in favour of transdisciplinary research as a departure from strict discipline-based inquiry. The project involves collaborative research with Master’s students and researchers located at five South African universities. The aim of this article is to evaluate the project as a transdisciplinary case study, intending to focus on its emergence as a history-based discipline, evolving into a transdisciplinary project. It also explores the epistemological value of transdisciplinary research as a knowledge production methodology in the context of the demand for a decolonised curriculum in South Africa. The article is set in the context of a NRF project with a spatiotemporal focus on the District Six forced removals during the colonial-apartheid period. A qualitative instrumental case study design guided the data collection and analyses. Participants’ project proposal texts were used as data. The results show, firstly, that transdisciplinarity is manifested in a wide range of titles and disciplines; secondly, a myriad of conceptual frameworks emerged from the data; and thirdly, a broad spectrum of research approaches emerged, mainly qualitative. Transdisciplinarity focuses on the ‘subject’ and the ‘hidden middle’ as domain where alternative philosophical research orientations are explored. Transdisciplinarity can be regarded as ‘Ubuntu’ research, given the common concern to bring out the ‘voice’ of the subaltern and a rejection of separation of humans into ‘racial’ classifications. As ‘Ubuntu research’, transdisciplinary research rejects an atomistic understanding of reality that excludes the human subject and a separation between human and nature.