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Global Youth


An interdisciplinary research centre that examines what it means to grow up in a global world


Youth agency and youth study theories: Perspectives from the Global South

By UCL Global Youth, on 28 September 2018

In late October, the Centre for Global Youth is hosting Dr Sharlene Swartz, the Executive Director of the Transformative Education research programme at the Human Sciences Research Council, South Africa. As part of this visit, Dr Swartz will be giving two talks, which are open to all.

Tuesday 30st October 2018 (10am – 11.30am, Room 739): Agency and impasses to success amongst higher education students in South Africa

In this lecture, Dr. Swartz will talk about the experience of young Black students in South African universities and highlight some of the particular obstacles that these students face. She will draw on the five-year longitudinal study that culminated in the book Studying while black (Swartz et al, 2018), and show an excerpt from the documentary Ready or Not! Black student experiences of universities in South Africa (https://youtu.be/hFcouu8ICfk). Dr Swartz will also discuss the methodological and theoretical frameworks she used for understanding student experiences in the context of inequality, and the challenges of formulating recommendations through such a theoretical framework.

This lecture is part of the 3rd year undergraduate Youth in a Globalising World Module but it is open to all, particularly students.

Wednesday 31st October 2018: Decolonising the curriculum – What can we learn from Global South theories and experiences? (Elvin Hall, 12.30-2pm)
*** This event is free, but booking is essential. To book you ticket, click here.
Lunch and refreshments will be provided.

Recent student protests in South Africa and around the world have centred attention on what has been termed ‘epistemic justice’ – the need to ensure that knowledge is released from the rhetoric of modernity, the logic of coloniality and the illusion of globality. Steering a careful pathway through a minefield of undefined and loosely employed terminology (inter alia indigenous, empire, Global South) this seminar will attempt to craft a careful answer to the questions: what does it mean to decolonise the curriculum and what will it take to do so? With regards to meaning, decolonising centres on three central questions: what is taught, how it is taught and who teaches it. In an attempt to show what kinds of interventions are needed, and the difficulties encountered, Swartz will describe a project in the field of youth studies (The Oxford Handbook of Global South Youth Studies). The Handbook, currently in preparation, offers an instructive case regarding how theory develops, travels, unravels and regenerates. Whilst showcasing new theoretical ways of understanding Southern youth’s life-worlds with its starkly differing material realities, it offers ways to avoid essentialising and homogenising Southern experiences and to ensure a renewed global youth studies from which everyone benefits.

Dr. Sharlene Swartz is Executive Director of the Transformative Education research programme at the Human Sciences Research Council in South Africa, an Adjunct Professor of Philosophy at the University of Fort Hare and an adjunct Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Cape Town. She holds undergraduate degrees from the University of the Witwatersrand and the University of Zululand in South Africa; a Master’s degree from Harvard University and a PhD from the University of Cambridge. Her expertise and current research centres on the just inclusion of youth in a transforming society that includes interpersonal and communal notions of restitution. Her work is characterised by a focus on Southern theory, emancipatory methodologies and critical race theory. Before embarking on graduate studies, Sharlene spent 12 years at a youth NGO where she pioneered peer-led social justice programmes for school-going youth. She has published widely in academic journals and has authored or edited multiple books including Ikasi: the moral ecology of South Africa’s township youth (2009); Teenage Tata: Voices of Young Fathers in South Africa (2009); Youth citizenship and the politics of belonging (2013); Another Country: Everyday Social Restitution (2016), Moral eyes: Youth and justice in Cameroon, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and South Africa (2018) and Studying while black: Race, education and emancipation in South African universities (2018). She is the President of the International Sociological Association’s Sociology of Youth research committee, is a nationally rated researcher in South Africa and is the chair of the board of the Restitution Foundation, an NGO in South Africa.

This visit was facilitated by a grant from the UCL Global Engagement Fund.

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