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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

Anti-Racism Network South Africa launched in Free State
2016-04-19

Description: Anti-Racism Network South Africa  Tags: Anti-Racism Network South Africa

Ms Nokuthula Sithole, Dr Danny Titus, and Mr Qondile Khedama
Photo: Lihlumelo Toyana

“Racism is, and has been, alive among us as the people of South Africa for a long time, and we therefore need organisations such as ARNSA to create spaces for us to speak up on issues of racism.” The Executive Mayor of the Mangaung Metro Municipality, Counsellor Thabo Manyoni, urged South Africans and the people of the local Metro to speak up on issues relevant to racism. He was speaking at the launch of the Free State chapter of the Anti-racism Network of South Africa (ARNSA) in Bloemfontein.

The Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice (IRSJ) at the University of the Free State (UFS) is partnered in this endeavour by the Mangaung Metro Municipality, the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation, the Foundation for Human Rights, the Nelson Mandela Foundation, Churches against Racism in Southern Africa (CARS) and the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development.

The ARNSA launch was followed by a dialogue led by Dr Danny Titus, Mr Qondile Khedama, and Prof Christina Landman. JC van der Merwe, the Deputy Director of the IRSJ at the UFS, said that the ARNSA initiative has the potential to unite all South Africans in appreciating and respecting the humanity of all people, as well as to mobilise people to fight against racism. His sentiments were echoed by Sean Moodley, the national ARNSA coordinator. Moodley said that we all have to take on racism; to learn about it, speak out against it, and act to stop it.

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