25 April 2019 | Story Rulanzen Martin | Photo Rulanzen Martin
SAGV Conference
From left; Dr Cilliers van den Berg, Head of the German Section; Prof Marianne Zappen-Thomson, President of SAGV and Dr Akila Ahouli, representative from GAS.

As much as it was a conference on Germanistik (German Studies) it also highlighted the international footprint of the University of the Free State (UFS) and the important role of international and national academic collaborations. 

The German Section in the Department Afrikaans and Dutch; German and French at the UFS hosted the second conference of the Association of German Studies in Southern Africa (SAGV) and German Studies in Sub-Saharan Africa (GAS) from 15-18 April 2019 on the UFS Bloemfontein Campus. 

“We are very proud to be hosting the conference. It is an international conference with delegates from overseas who are all working in German Studies or to use the German term Germanistik,” said Dr Cilliers van den Berg, Head of the German Section at the UFS. 

Waiting room in Germanistik explored

Warteräume (waiting rooms) was the theme of the four-day conference with various research papers on the role and/or value of these waiting rooms within Germanistik. “It is the transitional areas, within Germanistik, on every conceivable level,” said Van den Berg. The conference was sponsored by the embassies of Germany, Austria and Switzerland, as well as the German Academic Exchange Service and the Goethe Institute of Johannesburg.

“When I look at the theme of the conference it is extremely exciting because it reminds me of Homi Bhabha’s Third Spaces, liminal spaces and the in-betweeners,” said Prof Heidi Hudson, Dean of the Faculty of The Humanities. 

UFS and internationalisation

“One of the concepts we actively embrace is that of internationalisation. Globally and nationally, internationalisation has become accepted as one of the critical processes advancing the core business of universities,” said Prof Francis Petersen, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the UFS.

The delegates who attended the conference were from countries which included, among others, Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, Italy, Kenya, Germany and Namibia as well as delegates from the universities of Stellenbosch, Pretoria, Rhodes and North-West. 

“You represent a multifaceted culture that has enriched our global academic and cultural landscape over many years: great minds like Goethe, Kafka, Beethoven, Mozart, Freud, and Einstein,” said Prof Petersen.

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