n South African Journal of Higher Education - Beyond the heart of darkness and the unbearable lightness ...

Volume 24, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1011-3487



Soudien (2009) states that affirmative action is not just about 'inhabiting the university with people of colour; it is about appropriating the transcendence it makes possible as a consummately human and open-ended gift to humankind, and not, critically, a "white" gift'. This engagement with Soudien's (2009) invitation to take up the challenge of defining what constitutes affirmative action focuses on the power of statistical indicators and indices constitution of injustice.

Indexing has become a practice whereby the South African state 'conducts conduct' (govern) at universities at the intersection of the desire for inclusive justice and in the wake of a pattern of performance-driven management indices that globally constitute hierarchies of quality. In the translation of constitutional demands, legislation and policy into strategic action based on performance codes and statistical indicators, desire and performance become interactively constituted as the Real. These indices trap issues around higher education institutions and their qualifications within a discourse that precludes any debate about justice and mires the development of alternative codes of justice other than targets based on 'race' (as instituted by the apartheid government) and global rankings and ratings of quality.
In this brief response I want to argue for the critical engagement with the constitutive power of strategic initiatives that articulate affirmative action only in terms of racially oppositional and global competitive quantitative indicators and for the continuous deliberation that allows for the imaginative exploration of subjectivity, beyond the indexed boundaries that affirm only historical inequities.

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