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UFS academic delivers inaugural lecture on challenges confronting political science in the 21st century
2012-10-12

Prof. Hussein Solomon.
Photo: Stephen Collett
12 October 2012

This week Prof. Hussein Solomon, Senior Professor in the Department of Political Studies and Governance delivered his inaugural lecture on the Bloemfontein Campus of the University of the Free State (UFS).

In his lecture, “Challenges confronting political science in the 21st century, A South African perspective”, Prof. Solomon explored five challenges to academic political science in general and to South African political scientists in particular.

The challenges include the need to localise international relations theory with an emphasis on the emancipatory dimensions; exploring the nexus between technology and politics; incorporating political anthropology into mainstream political science syllabi; rising to the challenge of governing Africa’s cities; and the dangers of over-specialisation in an era that demands the use of a broader academic lens.

According to Prof. Solomon, political science has come a long way from those heady days in 1950 when Lasswell could confidently state that politics was about who gets what, when and how.

“Indeed, the world of 2012 scarcely resembles the world of 1950. Immanuel Wallerstein was correct in his assessment that the modern world system is coming to an end. As political scientists, we need to interrogate our existing knowledge constructs in relation to this rapidly changing reality. We need to indigenise international relations theory and emphasise creating an emancipatory and counter-hegemonic discourse.

We need to explore the nexus between technology and politics to deepen our democracy by empowering the margins in our societies. We need to embrace political anthropology as we strive to understand non-Western forms of governance. We need to use these understandings of traditional societies as we create hybrid forms of urban governance that stress inclusivity as we overcome the politics of identity and difference. We need to heed the call of De Tocqueville and create a new political science to understand the new times by supplementing disciplinary insights with those from other disciplines. In doing so, political science will once more regain its relevance to humanity in the twenty-first century,” Prof. Solomon said.
 

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