Naming the Moment

#ScienceMustFall, Power-Discourse-Knowledge, and Thinking Religion as Social Definition

in Religion and Theology
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This essay introduces and frames a collection of essays speaking into a particularly burning and troubling period in South African history. The slow economic decline over a period of roughly ten years have now accelerated into a two year-long running student protest over high costs of university education. The protesters themselves, and commentary on the protest movement, link the protests to the failure of the promises of the 1994 compromise that saw the inauguration of the new South Africa. At the same time, the protests also pick up on another exclusion, i.e., the vestiges of colonial knowledge regimes and cultural alienation. In the essays here, issues are address that speak into this situation from various perspectives, namely, the agency of African in defining their own history, the authority and sovereignty to interpret the context, and the role of religion in education to construct social identity.

Religion and Theology

A Journal of Contemporary Religious Discourse




Ayesha Omar, “Op-Ed: Moving Beyond the Discourse of Fees and Free Education,” Daily Maverick,, 3 October 2016.


Keith Hart and Vishnu Padayachee, “A History of South African Capitalism in National and Global Perspective,” Transformation: Critical Perspectives on Southern Africa 81/82 (2013): 55–85; DOI: 10.1353/trn.2013.0004, here 55.


Hart and Padayachee, “A History of South African Capitalism,” 55–56.


Daniel Little, “Sociology of Knowledge: Mannheim,” Understanding Society, 12 January 2012,


Gordon McOuat, “Virchow, Rudolf,” in Reader’s Guide to the History of Science, ed. Arne Hessenbruch (London; Chicago, IL: Routledge, 2000), 747–749. The legacy of Virchow on medical science is immense: from the practice of medical observation, to autopsy, to diagnostics, to cellular biology (not to mention anthropology), Virchow single-handedly changed the world of medicine into a scientific endeavour. As a result of his studies in human anthropology he also became a vocal critic of the racist ideology of Aryan racial purity and descent of Germanic peoples.


McCarthy, Knowledge as Culture, 1. The emphasis is in the original.


McCarthy, Knowledge as Culture, 2.


McCarthy, Knowledge as Culture, 3.


McCarthy, Knowledge as Culture, 3.


Shadrack B.O. Gutto, “Editorial,” International Journal of African Renaissance Studies – Multi-, Inter- and Transdisciplinarity 1, no. 1 (2006): 1–6, here 1, DOI: 10.1080/18186870608529703. Just from the first volume, see also Dani Wadada Nabudere, “Towards an Afrokology of Knowledge Production and African Regeneration,” International Journal of African Renaissance Studies – Multi-, Inter- and Transdisciplinarity 1, no. 1 (2006): 7–32, DOI: 10.1080/18186870608529704; Catherine A. Odora Hoppers, “Centre for African Renaissance Studies, the Academy, the State and Civil Society: Methodological Implications of Transdisciplinarity and the African Perspective,” International Journal of African Renaissance Studies – Multi-, Inter- and Transdisciplinarity 1, no. 1 (2006): 33–52, DOI: 10.1080/18186870608529705; Paul Tiyambe Zeleza, “The disciplinary, interdisciplinary and global dimensions of African studies,” International Journal of African Renaissance Studies – Multi-, Inter- and Transdisciplinarity 1, no. 2 (2006): 195–220, DOI: 10.1080/18186870608529717; and Rushiella Songca, “Transdisciplinarity: The Dawn of an Emerging Approach to Acquiring Knowledge,” International Journal of African Renaissance Studies – Multi-, Inter- and Transdisciplinarity 1, no. 2 (2006): 221–232, DOI: 10.1080/18186870608529718.


Muxe Nkondo, Decolonisation and Repositioning the University of South Africa: Vision in Practice (Pretoria: University of South Africa, 2016).


Nkondo, Decolonisation, 18.


Elias Kifon Bongmba and Jill Olivier, “Introduction. The Challenge of Transdisciplinarity in Researching Religion and the Public,” Religion & Theology 21, no. 3&4 (2014): 211–217; Elias Kifon Bongmba, “Interdisciplinary and Transdisciplinarity in African Studies. Theology and the Other Sciences,” Religion & Theology 21, no. 3&4 (2014): 218–250.


Elias Kifon Bongmba, “Writing African Christianity. Reflections on the Historiography of the History of African Christianity,” 275, in this volume. An explanation of the process of interdisciplinary theorising is given by James R. Cochrane, “Thinking about Complexity. Transdisciplinarity and Research on Religion and Health in Africa,” Religion & Theology 21, no. 3&4 (2014): 334–357, here 341.


Cochrane, “Thinking about Complexity,” 341.


Guy Standing, “The Five Lies Of Rentier Capitalism,” Social Europe, October 27, 2016,


Ross B. Emmett, “Economics and Theology after the Separation,” in The Oxford Handbook of Christianity and Economics, ed. Paul Oslington (Oxford; New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2014), 135.


Roland Boer and Christina Petterson, Idols of Nations: Biblical Myth at the Origins of Capitalism (Minneapolis, Minn.: Fortress Press, 2014).


van den Heever, “Diversity,” 201.


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