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Athi Mongezeleli Joja, art critic and independent researcher

This course will present two related but distinct topics, namely a critique of the concept of ‘cultural work/er’ and the limits of the liberal democratic paradigm from the perspective of the Azanian intellectual tradition. Both lectures are part of an ongoing research interest in the political, epistemological and idiomatic disposition of anti-apartheid protest art. The first lecture will address the problematical history, politics, conception and even nominal origins of the term ‘cultural work/er’ in the anti-apartheid liberation movement. The second lecture will re-examine the much celebrated, enlarged sculpture History (1987) by Dumile Feni, which stands outside the Constitutional Court, in light of the ongoing Africanist critique of the new constitution of South Africa. The course will thus address these issues, with a primary interest in subjecting the South African cultural discursive order to the unyielding critical framework of the Azanian intellectual tradition.


Lecture titles

1.  Azanian philosophy of art and the critique of cultural work

2.  Kinaesthesia, or, what can Dumile teach us about falling?


Recommended reading

Dladla, N. 2018. ‘The Liberation of History and the end of South Africa: Some Notes Towards an Azanian Historiography of Africa, South’, South African Journal on Human Rights 34(3): 415–440.

Joja, A.M. 2021. ‘About Race: A Critical Appraisal on the Concept of Cultural Work’, in Mhlambi, I.J. and Ngidi, S. (Eds.) Mintorho ya Vulavula: Arts, National Identities and Democracy in South Africa. Johannesburg: Mistra Publication. 124–156.

Ramose, M. 2004. ‘The Struggle for Reason in Africa’ in Coetzee, P.H. and Roux, A.P.J. (Eds.) Philosophy from Africa: A Text With Readings (Second edition). Cape Town: Oxford University Press Southern Africa. 1–8.

Wilderson, F.B. 2003. ‘Gramsci’s Black Marx: Whither the Slave in Civil Society’, Social Identities 9(3): 225–240.





DATE: Thursday 20–Friday 21 January
TIME: 9.15 am
COURSE FEES: R150 (online) R170 (livestream to lecture theatre on campus)