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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

SA and Africa must avoid going over the edge
2017-02-26

Description: Prof Hussein Solomon, SA and Africa must avoid going over the edge Tags: Prof Hussein Solomon, SA and Africa must avoid going over the edge

From left are: Prof JM Moosa (Centre for African
Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, India),
Prof Hussein Solomon (Senior Professor: Political
Studies and Governance at the UFS),
Prof Virgil Hawkins (Osaka School of International
Public Policy Studies, Osaka University in Japan), and
Prof Ajay Dubey (Centre for African Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru
University, India).
Photo: Jóhann Thormählen

South Africa and the rest of Africa might be standing on the edge of a cliff and therefore conversations are necessary to avoid tipping over. According to Prof Hussein Solomon that was why a conference to address these issues was recently co-hosted by the University of the Free State (UFS).

Prof Solomon, Senior Professor of Political Studies and Governance at the UFS, said the continent and country needed to make the right decisions. “These right choices refer to the correct economic, political, and social policies.”

International delegates attend
Delegates from India, Japan, Zambia, Lesotho and South Africa attended the conference, called A View from the Precipice: Critical Reflections on South Africa and Africa in the 21st Century, on 13 and 14 February 2017 on the Bloemfontein Campus. It was co-hosted by the UFS Department of Political Studies and Governance, Jawaharlal Nehru University (India), Centre for the Engagement on African Peace and Security, Southern African Centre for Collaboration on Peace and Security and Osaka University (Japan).

Prof Solomon said external actors provided a useful mirror as they gave an idea of how Africa and South Africa were viewed from abroad.

Creating a knowledge-sharing forum
“It is not just about sharing knowledge, but creating a forum for sharing knowledge,” said Prof Virgil Hawkins from the Osaka School of International Public Policy Studies.
Prof Hawkins, who is a visiting professor at the UFS, said a conference like this was one of the cornerstones of the relationship between the UFS and Osaka University. Prof Solomon is also a visiting professor at last mentioned university.

Highlights of conference
Prof Solomon said some of the discussions included that “the ANC government is in crisis and is dragging the rest of the country with it”. Another participant said that 80% of the jobs in the next 20 years had not been created yet – which put the relevance of tertiary education in the spotlight.

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