The idea of Southern Africa in humanities and social science disciplines
Siziba, Liqhwa Patience
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The role of the academy in the manufacture of individual and group identities remains least understood from theoretical and empirical perspectives. The legitimation and consumption of such identity discourses (by both academic practitioners and the general public) have also been inadequately theorised. What is well known and heavily theorised is the subject of how disciplines have created their own identities but the consequence of such disciplinary identity formations remains a grey area that still requires systematic theorisation. Drawing on a selection of humanities and social science disciplines, their academic associations, journals and journal articles bearing the name ‘southern Africa’ as its data set, this paper provides a critical discourse analysis of how these fields of study have shaped the idea of southern Africa. The overall intention here is not to flag which discipline provides the best definition and understanding of southern Africa. Rather, the overarching argument is this: in the course of pursuing their individual disciplinary interests, the different strands of the humanities and social sciences have inadvertently invented and sustained competing and contested southern African identities that are inconsistent with the dynamic and fluid nature of the everyday lived experiences of the peoples whose region they purport to describe and represent in academic circles.
- Faculty of Humanities