n South African Journal of Higher Education - Challenges for higher education transformation in South Africa : integrating the local and the global

Volume 16, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1011-3487



Higher education in South Africa is faced with an important challenge, how it will cope with the tension between the universal claims of global science on the one hand, and on the other the equally compelling claims to recover the African past (Scott 1997:18). In this article I explore how this challenge might be taken up, by arguing that Western knowledge systems and Indigenous knowledge systems can work together if the representational aspect of knowledge is de-emphasised and the performative side of knowledge is emphasised. I use Turnbull's (1997) ideas of performativity and spatiality to show how seemingly disparate knowledge traditions might be able to be performed together within local knowledge spaces. I point out that although globalisation has homogenising tendencies it also opens up spaces for new identities and the contestation of established values and norms (Stromquist & Monkman 2000). In a socially distributed knowledge system partnerships between higher education institutions and indigenous peoples might create new knowledge spaces which could have transformative effects for academics and indigenous communities.

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