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22 August 2018
Prof Coetzee is retelling old stories in a new book
"Failing to Learn Doomed to repeat" was one of the bookworks on display.

The title of Prof Jan K Coetzee’s latest book, Books & Bones & Other Things, says it all. The book looks into the many aspects that have built our society by presenting in a new way the stories contained in old books collected over the years. 

Prof Coetzee is a Senior Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of the Free State (UFS). Books & Bones & Other Things was launched on 14 August 2018 and coincided with an exhibition of various “bookworks”   art installations by Prof Coetzee that feature old books, sculptures, artefacts, and fossils.
 
Book resulting from research programme 
   

“This is a book on books so the library is the perfect venue to launch a book on old texts as documents of life,” said Prof Coetzee.

For the past seven years he has been directing a Master’s and PhD programme in Sociology called The Narrative Study of Lives. His project, Documents of Life, from which this book came, focuses on a collection of old texts the oldest of which dates back to 1605.

“We live in storytelling societies and for as long as we can remember we have been telling stories. Over time the ability to produce books was born. Any collection of books can tell you a lot about your own life and the society you live in."

“I cannot read the stories of many of these old books because their narratives are closed. I have to re-narrate the books, change the narrative convention and present them in a way that makes sense to me. By combining the books with art and artefacts I want the books to tell their ancient stories in new ways.”

Book launches and intellectual discussions

At the book launch, Prof Corli Witthuhn, Vice-Rector: Research said: “What we have achieved with this launch and exhibition is unbelievable. We always try to create an intellectual space in the library.

“A book such as this is the pinnacle of an academic career. It is multidisciplinary and it looks at the world in a different way. That is what scholarship is about.”

A painting by Robert Hodgins was also handed over to the Johannes Stegmann Gallery, home of the corporate collection of the UFS, at the event. 

News Archive

Societal perceptions of women in politics in Cameroon must change
2017-08-30

 Description: Prof Atanga readmore Tags: Prof Lilian Atanga, University of Bamenda, Faculty of Humanities, Centre for Africa Studies, political participation of women 

Prof Lilian Lem Atanga presented a lecture,
Gender, Discourse and Cognition and Implications on
Political Participation, 
as part of the First Humanities
and Gendered Worlds Lecture 2017.
Photo: Charl Devenish


Women have not internalised the fact that they can participate on an equal footing in politics with men. This is one of the conclusions made by Prof Lilian Lem Atanga in a study of the political participation of women in Cameroon.
“There still is a strong belief that women can’t deliver the goods (in areas such as politics),” Prof Atanga said. According to her, stereotypes were still entrenched in Africa and a lot had to be done to change societal perceptions of the role of women in politics.

Poor representation of women in politics
Prof Atanga, an associate professor at the University of Bamenda in Cameroon, was guest speaker at the First Humanities and Gendered Worlds Lecture 2017. The lecture was hosted by the Faculty of Humanities and the Centre for Africa Studies (CAS) at the University of the Free State (UFS) in the Equitas Auditorium, Bloemfontein Campus, on 3 August 2017. The title of the research fellow’s lecture at the CAS lecture was Gender, Discourse and Cognition and Implications on Political Participation.
She noted that although there had been a marked increase in the political participation of women in Cameroon, it still was insufficient. Of the 24 million people in the country, 52% were women but only 20% of the senators and 31% of parliamentarians were women. 

Gender-segregated roles affect participation 
And there are many reasons for this. “A lot more women still believe in gender-segregated roles and this affects their political participation.” Many men also don’t approve of women’s political participation.
In her study Prof Atanga found that stereotypes were also emphasised in the way the media in Cameroon reported on the roles of women. 

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