A group of academics and support staff members of the University of Leipzig in Germany recently visited Stellenbosch University (SU) to build on existing partnerships in a number of academic fields of study. Coupled with this, the purpose of the visit, from 19 to 22 November, was also to participate in a joint Leipzig-Stellenbosch seminar on the theme “Knowledge production and knowledge societies: Africa in its transregional entanglements".
Leipzig is one of SU's oldest institutional partners, with a relationship dating back to the early 1990s. In fact, the relationship is much older because a number of Stellenbosch professors from the early decades of SU's existence received their doctoral degrees from Leipzig, which is one of Germany's oldest and most famous universities.
The Leipzig-Stellenbosch seminar was unique in the sense that such a large group of scholars from two universities participated and presented papers related to a specific theme. Prof Heidi Prozesky (CREST, SU) presented a keynote address on a new book recently published by CREST, The Next Generation of Scientists in Africa.
From Stellenbosch Profs Jan Botha, Scarlett Cornelissen, Cherryl Walker, Sandra Swart, Pieter Fourie and Drs Handri Walters and Davide Chinigo participated by reading papers and responding to the Leipzig papers. From Leipzig Profs Ulf Engel, Matthias Middell, Dmitri van den Bersselaar, Marian Burchardt, Katja Werthmann presented papers and responded to the Stellenbosch papers.
A wide range of topics were addressed, among others the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) and new knowledge frontiers in African science, multi-national enterprises in West-Africa before the advent of the knowledge society, knowledge production in Africa through peace and security think tanks, research on higher education in Africa, a comparison of the successes of the work of NGOs and missionary Protestantism in sub-Saharan Africa, the history of anthropology and racial studies during the early 20th century at SU, and a study of the entanglement of the historical supernatural baboon with the “tabloid tokoloshe" in Southern Africa.
Different dimensions of knowledge production in Africa were explored and interesting converging themes emerged which will be further investigated by this joint venture.
In addition to the academic work, the Leipzig delegation also included officials from various support services who had meetings with their peers at Stellenbosch.
Dr Svend Poller, Director of the International Centre at Leipzig who led the delegation, noted that with this visit they also wanted to share in the Centenary celebrations of SU and cement the inter-institutional relations with a view to ongoing collaboration.
Photo caption: The delegates from the University of Leipzig and SU.