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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

Twenty years of human rights - a call for reflection on the successes and challenges
2015-02-25

Back from the left are: Advocate Mohamed Shafie Ameermia, Commissioner, South African Human Rights Commission
Advocate Lawrence Mushwana, Chairperson of the South African Human Rights Commission
 
Front from the left are: Honourable Mahube Molemela, Judge President of the Free State High court and Acting judge of the Constitutional Court of South
Dr Choice Makhetha, Vice-Rector External Relations, University of the Free State
Prof Caroline Nicholson, Dean of the Faculty of Law, University of the Free State

The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC), the Faculty of Law, and the Free State Department of Education hosted a gala dinner on 19 February 2015 to celebrate the launching of the Free State Provincial Division of the SAHRC, reaffirming their collaborative partnership, and confirming the commitment of the Free State Department of Education to community engagement, constitutional rights awareness, and youth advocacy.

The number of human rights abuses reported to the Human Rights Commission in recent years points to the complex nature of the challenges faced by South African communities. What is most disturbing is that the overwhelming majority of these offences are perpetrated by the youth, said Adv Lawrence Moshwana, Chairperson of the South African Human Rights Commission.  “The Human Rights Commission is in need of support from government in order to be able to reach all provinces of South Africa”. The expansion of the commission’s services in the Free State and its partnership with the Provincial Department of Education is a great step towards protecting the rights of the most vulnerable communities.

 

Twenty years of human rights (read the full story)

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