In a rapidly shifting social context of a post-apartheid society, the study of the humanities offers creative possibilities for dealing with the challenges of globalisation, rapid technological change, and the legacies of colonialism and apartheid. To this end, the Centre for Humanities Research (CHR) at the University of the Western Cape (UWC) is unique in developing partnerships across and between institutions, particularly universities, schools, public arts projects, museums, archives and art galleries, and nurturing future generations of humanities graduates, educators and cultural practitioners. To facilitate inter-institutional collaboration and partnership and to foster public engagement in the interest of building critical citizenry, the CHR’s two satellite initiatives in Athlone and the former District Six were established to convene a public lecture series and an arts education programme respectively. The public lecture series takes place at the Dullah Omar Centre for Critical Thought in African Humanities (DOCCTAH) and the arts education programme at the Factory of the Arts.
A humanities inquiry informed by location and history lends itself to asking pertinent questions from the South that will have significant impact for locating intellectual traditions in Africa in a global discourse on the contemporary human condition. The CHR builds a humanities discourse that is responsive to nurturing a discourse on the concept of the post-apartheid, and explores the relationship between the human and technology in our contemporary world, especially as this relates to rapidly transforming notions of society and politics. It also develops synergy between academic scholarship and cultural production and extends the reach of local and international humanities scholarship, as well as opportunities for arts education and cultural production, into communities on the Cape Flats.
Beyond public commitments, the CHR has championed humanities questions at the institutional site of the university, and in graduate education. Through sustained research on “War and the Everyday”, “Love and Revolution”, “Subversive Genealogies of the Humanities”, “the Subject of the Humanities” and a study of the foundational concepts of the humanities and their relation to the exercise of power, the CHR has forged an intellectual community of graduate students and faculty.