Towards a Response-able Pedagogy across Higher Education Institutions in Post-Apartheid South Africa: An Ethico-Political Analysis

Vivienne Bozalek, Michalinos Zembylas


Internationally there has been some interest in how critical pedagogies might be enabled in higher education to support transformative social agendas. Few writers, however, have theorised the ethico-political aspects of this effort from a feminist new materialist perspective. By focusing on the analysis of an inter-institutional collaborative course which was constructed across three disciplines and two differently positioned universities in Cape Town, South Africa, this paper examines the design of the course retrospectively from a feminist new materialist theoretical framing. In so doing, it moves beyond more traditional understandings of critical pedagogy to consider the design and student engagement with the course from the perspective of what we call “response-able pedagogies.” Response-able pedagogies are not simply examples of the type of learning that can take place when power relations, materiality and entanglement are acknowledged; they also constitute ethico-political practices that incorporate a relational ontology into teaching and learning activities. We propose that ethico-political practices such as attentiveness, responsibility, curiosity, and rendering each other capable, constitute reponse-able pedagogies. The paper focuses on the transdisciplinary and interinstitutional course to consider how these ethico-political practices which constitute a response-able pedagogy might (be put to) work and how the students were both enabled and constrained by this design in terms of their responses to such ethico-political practices. 


response-able pedagogies; critical pedagogies; relational ontology; feminist new materialism; ethico-political; social transformation; transdisciplinary; cross-institutional; higher education

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