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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

2010 World Cup: An opportunity for nation-building
2010-05-11

Pictured from the left, front are: Prof. Labuschagne and Prof. Cornelissen. Back: Prof. Kersting, Prof. Teuns Verschoor (Acting Senior Vice-Rector: UFS) and Dr Ralf Hermann (DAAD).
Photo: Mangaliso Radebe

“The 2010 FIFA World Cup creates a window of opportunity for nation-building in South Africa that could even surpass the opportunity created by the 1995 Rugby World Cup.”

This was according to Prof. Pieter Labuschagne from the University of South Africa, who was one of the three speakers during the lecture series on soccer that were recently presented by the Faculty of the Humanities at the University of the Free State (UFS), in conjunction with the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), under the theme: Soccer and Nation Building.

Prof. Labuschagne delivered a paper on the topic, The 2010 Soccer World Cup in South Africa: Nation Building or White Apathy?, highlighting the critical issue of how sport in South Africa was still largely supported along racial lines.

“We are still enforcing the separateness of rugby as a sport for whites and soccer as a sport for blacks,” he said.

He said a high degree of animosity against soccer existed among whites because they felt rugby and cricket were being singled out by parliament as far as transformation was concerned. He said that could be the reason why a large number of South African whites still supported soccer teams from foreign countries instead of local Premier Soccer League teams.

“Bridging social context between different racial groups is still a major problem, even though patriotism is comparatively high in South Africa,” added Prof. Norbert Kersting from the University of Stellenbosch, who also presented a paper on World Cup 2010 and nation building from Germany to South Africa, drawing critical comparisons on issues of national pride and identity between the 2006 World Cup in Germany and the 2010 World Cup.

“Strong leadership is needed to utilize the opportunity provided by the 2010 World Cup to build national unity as former President Nelson Mandela did with the Rugby World Cup in 1995,” said Prof. Labuschagne.

Although acknowledging the power of sport as a unifying force, Prof. Scarlett Cornelissen, also from the University of Stellenbosch, said that, since 1995, the captivating power of sport had been used to achieve political aims and that the 2010 World Cup was no different.

Amongst the reasons she advanced for her argument were that the 2010 World Cup was meant to show the world that South Africa was a capable country; that the World Cup was meant to solidify South Africa’s “African Agenda” – the African Renaissance - and also to extend the idea of the Rainbow Nation; consolidate democracy; contribute to socio-economic development and legitimize the state.

“We should not place too much emphasis on the 2010 World Cup as a nation-building instrument,” she concluded.

She presented a paper on the topic Transforming the Nation? The political legacies of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

The aim of the lecture series was to inspire public debate on the social and cultural dimensions of soccer.

DAAD (Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst) is one of the world’s largest and most respected intermediary organisations in the field of international academic cooperation.
Media Release
Issued by: Mangaliso Radebe
Assistant Director: Media Liaison
Tel: 051 401 2828
Cell: 078 460 3320
E-mail: radebemt@ufs.ac.za  
11 May 2010
 

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