Research Chair: Identities and Social Cohesion in Africa
Professor Andrea Hurst
Primary Discipline: Philosophy
Biosketch of Interim Chair Professor Andrea Hurst
Professor Hurst was awarded PhD in Philosophy from Villanova University, Philadelphia, 2006. This research focused on bringing complexity-thinking in continental philosophy into contact with psychoanalytic theory, leading to the publication of a book entitled Derrida vis-á-vis Lacan: Interweaving Deconstruction and Psychoanalysis (New York: Fordham University Press, 2008), as well as over 40 accredited articles and book chapters on related subjects. From her appointment in 2012 at Nelson Mandela University, she has been extensively engaged with the revival and restructuring of Philosophy as a discipline at the University, and served for nearly 2 years as Director: School of Language, Media and Culture (2016-2017). Professor Hurst has been and remains deeply committed to building research capacity. She has organised an on-going weekly Philosophy seminar, and has developed and presented close to 30 research workshops, including 8 5-day workshops on academic writing for publication. She has also recently served for 4 years as Editor-in Chief of the South African Journal of Philosophy (2014-2017).
Relevance of research
In line with the National Development Plan, the research programme in Identities and Social Cohesion, places focus on the interrelations between art forms, identities, knowledge production and social cohesion. Fusing philosophical inquiry with practice-based knowing in the various arts, the aim is to investigate whether and how intellectual experimentation and aesthetic practices may work to undo bounded, adversarial identities, re-imagine emancipatory social spaces and dynamics, and promote the kind of dialogue and healing that restores dignity.
The relevance of such collaboration between philosophy and the arts is at once pedagogical and ethical. Making a paradigmatic shift beyond both self-confident conceptual models and self-assertive anti-conceptual strategies, such aesthetic exploration calls upon researchers to modify ingrained habits of thought, develop intellectual confidence, and draw on art’s unique power to engage people emotionally in questioning, raising doubts, creating dialogue, and opening educational spaces in which to imagine novel solutions to social issues. The ethical hope is that reflective spaces of dialogical interaction between diverse voices, will create better ways to see and be in the world.
Current research interests
Professor Hurst remains engaged, broadly speaking, in examining the interfaces between philosophy as a way of life in its many dimensions, psychoanalytic thinking, and the development of notions of ethical responsibility within the contemporary paradigmatic shift from “simplicity” to “complexity.” The extension of this research into the field of aesthetics and practice-based knowing in the various arts, promises to be an exciting new development.