The Potential for Posthuman Insights to Effect Socially Just Pedagogies

Brenda Leibowitz, kibashni Naidoo


In the South African higher education context, which is fraught with inequities and where many feel uncomfortable, the focus on socially just pedagogies and the positioning of teachers in relation to this is not just timeous and relevant, but crucial. In this article we share what we believe a posthumanist view has to offer researchers and educationists. The article revisits data from a scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) research project, in which 23 audio-recorded interviews were conducted with academics from a variety of faculties and units for academic development. We discuss two discourses which emerged from our reading of the data: the first concerns lecturers and students having fixed racial identities that influence how learning does or does not take place and the second concerns students learning in a developmental and teleological manner. We discuss ideas culled from the literature on posthumanist ontologies that helped us to respond to these discourses, and which we believe, could be shared with academics and researchers who wish to advance a socially just pedagogy in higher education. We reflect briefly by way of conclusion on what, as researchers, our responses and responsibility towards the data and the complexities of our time could or should be. 


higher education; socially just pedagogies; posthumanism; scholarship of teaching and learning; South Africa

Full Text:



Barad, K. 2007. Meeting the Universe Half-Way: Quantum Physics and the Entanglement of Matter and Meaning. Durham: Duke University Press.

Barad, K. 2010. “Quantum Entanglements and Hauntological Relations of Inheritance: Dis/Continuities, SpaceTime Enfoldings, and Justice-to-Come.” Derrida Today 3 (2): 240–68.

Barad, K. 2012. “Intra-Actions: An Interview with Karan Barad by Adam Kleinman.” Mousse 34: 76–81.

Bozalek, V., R. Carolissen, B. Leibowitz, and M. Boler. 2014. Introduction to Discerning Critical Hope in Educational Practices, edited by V. Bozalek, B. Leibowitz, R. Carolissen and M. Boler. London: Routledge.

Braidotti, R. 2011. Nomadic Theory. The Portable Rosi Braidotti. New York: Columbia University Press.

Braidotti, R. 2013. The Posthuman. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Crist, E. 2016. “On the Poverty of Our Nomenclature.” In Anthropocene or Capitalocene? Nature, History and the Crisis of Capitalism, edited by J.W. Moore. Michigan: PM Press.

Dolphijn, R., and I. van der Tuin. 2012. New Materialism: Interview and Cartographies. Michigan: Open Humanities Press.

Dennett, B. 2015. “Rhodes University: A Demand for Transformation.” Mail&Guardian, September 9. (accessed March 20, 2017).

Fraser, N. 2008. “Reframing Justice in a Globalizing World.” In Adding Insult to Injury: Nancy Fraser Debates her Critics, edited by K. Olson, 273–91. London: Verso.

Fraser, N. 2009. Scales of Justice: Reimagining Political Space in a Globalizing World. New York: Columbia University Press.

Haraway, D. 2016. Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chuthulucene. Durham: Duke University Press.

Kreber, C. 2013. Authenticity in and through Teaching in Higher Education. Abingdon: Routledge.

Latour, B. 2005. Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to Actor-Network-Theory. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Leibowitz, B. 2016. “Report on the First Seminar at UJ: Decolonising the Curriculum, Teaching and Learning at UJ.” (accessed March 2, 2017).

Leibowitz, B., and V. Bozalek. 2016. “The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning from a Social Justice Perspective.” Teaching in Higher Education 21 (2): 109–22.

Leibowitz, B., K. Naidoo, and R. Mayet. 2017. “Teaching in and for Social Justice.” In Transforming Higher Education: Towards a Socially Just Pedagogy, edited by R. Osman and D. Hornsby, 79–98. Cham: Palgrave.

MacLure, M. 2013. “Researching without Representation? Language and Materiality in Post-Qualitative Methodology.” International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education 26 (6): 658–67.

MacLure, M. 2014. “The Wonder of Data.” Cultural Studies—Critical Methodologies 13 (4): 228–32.

MacLure, M. 2016. “The Refrain of the A-Grammatical Child: Finding Another Language in/for Qualitative Research.” Cultural Studies—Critical Methodologies 16 (2): 173–82.

Masny, D. 2012. “Cartographies of Multiple Literacies.” In Mapping Multiple Literacies: An Introduction to Deleuzian Literacy Studies, edited by D. Masny and D. Cole, 15–42. London: Continuum.

Massumi, B. 2015. Politics of Affect. Cambridge: Polity.

Mayet, R. 2016. “The Role of the Socially Engaged Academic—Meeting at the University of Johannesburg on 31 October 2016.” (accessed May 20, 2017).

Moje, E. 2007. “Developing Socially Just Subject-Matter Instruction: A Review of the Literature on Disciplinary Literacy Teaching.” Review of Research in Education 31 (1): 1–44.

Pacini-Ketchabaw, V., F. Nxumalo, and C. Rowan. 2011. “Nomadic Research Practices in Early Childhood: Interrupting Racisms and Colonialisms.” Reconceptualising Educational Research Methodology 2 (1): 19–33.

Postma, D. 2012. “Educational Change, the Agency of the Educator and Heterogeneous Assemblages.” Journal of Education 53: 55–74.

Postma, D. 2016. “The Ethics for Becoming in a Pedagogy for Social Justice: A Posthumanist Perspective.” South African Journal of Higher Education 30 (3): 310–28.

Roth, W. 2014. Curriculum*-in-the-Making: A Post-Constructivist Perspective. New York: Peter Lang.

St. Pierre, E., and A. Jackson. 2014. “Qualitative Data Analysis after Coding.” Qualitative Inquiry 20 (6): 715–19.

Springgay, S. 2015. “‘Approximate-Rigorous Abstractions’: Propositions of Activation for Posthumanist Research in Education.” In Posthumanism and Educational Research, edited by N. Snaza and J. Weaver, 76–88. London: Routledge.

Taylor, A., and M. Blaise. 2014. “Queer Worlding Childhood.” Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education 35 (3): 377–92.

Thiele, K. 2016. “Quantum Physics and/as Philosophy: Immanence, Diffraction and the Ethics of Mattering.” Rhizome: Cultural Studies in Emerging Knowledge 30.

Vannini, P. 2015. Introduction to Non-Representational Methodologies: Re-Envisioning Research, edited by P. Vannini, 1–18. New York: Routledge.

Yuval-Davis, N. 2010. “Theorizing Identity: Beyond the ‘Us’ and ‘Them’ Dichotomy.” Patterns of Prejudices 44 (3): 261–80.

Zembylas, M. 2010. “Teachers’ Emotional Experiences of Growing Diversity and Multiculturalism in Schools and the Prospects of an Ethic of Discomfort.” Teachers and Teaching: Theory and Practice 16 (6): 703–16. https//

Zembylas, M. 2012. “Pedagogies of Strategic Empathy: Navigating through the Emotional Complexities of Anti-Racism in Higher Education.” Teaching in Higher Education 17: 113–25.


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2017 Brenda Leibowitz, kibashni Naidoo

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.