A timely question : how can we not talk about becoming a professor in the context of decolonising higher education? / Mgqwashu Emmanuel Mfanafuthi
Mgqwashu, Emmanuel Mfanafuthi
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Drawing from my own experiences and critical reflections on my journey to becoming a professor, I show how two types of pressure facing higher-education institutions necessitate a revisiting of the role of a professor. These pressures are, firstly, to account for “market-friendliness” and, secondly, to respond to the transformation and decolonisation imperatives as a result of massification. I show the broader socio-economic and political conditions under which universities exist and the impact these have on the knowledge project. I argue that such impact manifests through instrumental reasoning and the commodification of knowledge, as well as what Leibowitz (2017) refers to as ‘Western hegemony’ of knowledge or the domination of one body of knowledge or one way of seeing the world over others. Given this impact, I explore the extent to which a professorial role may need to re-adapt in order to respond to these broader socio-economic and political exigencies that continue to spill over into higher education. In this presentation, I neither prescribe how a professorial role needs to respond to these imperatives, nor am I questioning the role the professoriate currently plays in higher education. Instead, I suggest possible conceptual framings that we can draw upon as we attempt to re-envision this role.