Bert Olivier

‘Decolonisation’, the new ideology

Everywhere one looks today in South Africa you find a new imperative: “Decolonise!” In certain academic quarters it has evidently already attained the level of a new ideology, where academics are expected to “decolonise” the courses they teach (and presumably the articles they submit for publication as well). What astonishes me is that academics do…

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This is not all that Gyna sapiens (‘thinking woman’) is capable of

How the human species – Gyna and Homo sapiens (thinking woman and man), supposedly – have come down in the world. It does not take a genius to grasp this, although I daresay most geniuses would not waste their time with evidence supporting my statement, above; they probably have better things to do. What I’m…

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Foucault and the courage of truth

The last course that Michel Foucault presented at the Collége de France in 1984, when he was already quite weak (he died in June of that year, and taught until March), was on The Courage of Truth – later published with that title (Palgrave Macmillan 2011; Kindle edition). Although I cannot do justice to it…

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Protests herald the emergence of new democratic subjectivities

We are in Valletta, Malta, at a conference at present, and I have just done a presentation on the reasons for the widespread nihilism in the world today. What struck me was the fact that a number of the other delegates who came to me afterwards to talk to me about my presentation expressed their…

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Student protests as ‘acting out’

The recent, and still continuing university student protests across the country call for a more fundamental theoretical approach. Although one could always address them at the level of “common sense” or everyday discourse (which is what I have done here before), it is perhaps time to elaborate on the fruits yielded by a psychoanalytical perspective…

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Climate change activism DOES work, even against a colossus

Anyone who feels as strongly about some issues in the globalised world as I do, would feel buoyed by reading the article by Alex Altman, titled “The Thin Green Line”, in a recent edition of TIME magazine (February 15, 2016, p. 38-41). It is a tale of hard-won success on the part of tough environmental…

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The genesis of ‘uncontrollable societies’

What could “uncontrollable societies” – a phrase that probably strikes fear into the hearts of every member of technocratic governments the world over – possibly mean? To explain it is no easy task, because it entails abstract thinking and conceptualisation not often required of individuals in our technologically oriented society today. The intertextual reference of…

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A flexible model for research in the human sciences

It often happens that postgraduate students and I have conversations about the question, how to go about doing research in the humanities and social sciences (the “human sciences”). And I’m not only talking about methodology (which is not the same as method); methodology is closely intertwined with epistemological (knowledge-) and ontological (being-) questions, and cannot…

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The particularity of race and the universality of being human: Derrida on Mandela

Judging by the seemingly never-ending spate of articles, debates, and to-and-fro accusations that reflect a veritable obsession with race in this country — an obsession one might have expected to abate somewhat at this point in time, almost 22 years after the demise of apartheid — it appears to me a timeous moment to return…

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Change is happening worldwide…

On October 15 and 21 2012 the Current Affairs programme on the BBC’s Radio 4 broadcast a documentary in the form of an interview with the most cited sociologist and social theorist in the world, Manuel Castells, at The London School of Economics on his (then) recently published new book, Aftermath: The Cultures of the…

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