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29 January 2019 | Story Xolisa Mnukwa | Photo Anja Aucamp
Prof Francis Petersen speech
“We can create an institution that operates and lives in the times of embracing and celebrating diversity, inclusivity, and academic excellence by ensuring that students own their time at university,” said Prof Francis Petersen.

25 January 2019 marked the official welcoming of the University of the Free State’s (UFS) first-year students, as they moved into their respective residences and were warmly welcomed on the UFS Bloemfontein Campus. This day also marked the start of the registration process for first-year students.

According to first-year Psychology student Keisha Claasen, who moved into her residence earlier on 25 January, her first experience of the UFS was daunting but exciting, as she had never been in a similar environment. According to Given Gwerera, who dropped his son off at the Karee residence earlier the day, “the UFS is an institution with great culture and an overall good academic record.” He further explained that he trusts his son to make full use of the opportunities presented to him, as he has a cool head on his shoulders.

On the evening of 25 January, an eager group of millennials, joined by their parents, took the first sip from their cup of varsity life as they assembled on the Red Square of the Bloemfontein Campus to meet the Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Prof Francis Petersen, members of Rectorate, the deans of all faculties, and the Student Representative Council (SRC) of the UFS.

“2019 will be a year of continued change; the UFS is thrilled about the prospect of bringing about opportunities for adaptation and realignment to the future,” said Prof Francis Petersen.

He further explained that the university prides itself in moulding its students into well-rounded individuals who will develop into globally competitive graduates as required in a diversity of landscapes. Prof Petersen urged first-years to remain open to the technological developments that go with globalisation, because of its permanent effects on society today.

First-years were further advised to take advantage of the rich pool of academic research and knowledge that is characteristic of the university and is piloted by UFS scholars, by engaging with and learning from them.

The inspiring night concluded on a colourful note, as the audience enjoyed an artistic laser show in front of the Main Building. Caption:

“UFS academics conduct research that forces the world to take note,” said Prof Francis Petersen at the official first-year welcoming ceremony on the UFS Bloemfontein Campus.

News Archive

Dying of consumption: Studying ‘othering’ and resistance in pop culture
2014-10-31

 

 

The Centre for Africa Studies (CAS) at the UFS – under the project leadership of Prof Heidi Hudson (CAS Director) – conceptualised an interdisciplinary research project on representations of otherness and resistance.

This is in collaboration with UFS departments such as the Odeion School of Music, the Department of Drama and Theatre Arts, the Department of Fine Arts, the Jonathan Edwards Centre Africa and the Department of Afrikaans and Dutch, German and French.  

In this project, Dr Stephanie Cawood from CAS leads a sub-project on the dynamics of pop culture and consumerism. Her research unpacks and critiques pop culture representations of othering and resistance by engaging with the othering rhetoric of conspicuous consumption as well as the subversive rhetoric or culture jamming at play in various South African youth subcultures.

Consumerism has become the institutional system in which we live our daily lives. Pop culture is the result when multinational corporations take aspects of culture and turn it into commodities with high market value. In pop culture and its manifestation, consumption, marketers and savvy advertising executives have realised long ago that othering and resistance are powerful tools to artificially create empty spaces in people’s lives that can only be filled through consuming.

“The scary thing is in my opinion that everyone has become a market segment, including very young children,” says Dr Cawood.

In his 1934 book, The Theory of the Leisure Class (TLC), Thorstein Veblen coined the term conspicuous consumption to describe the conduct of the nouveau riche. He  contended that when people manage to meet their basic human requirements, any additional accumulation of wealth will no longer relate to function, but will be spent on ostentatious displays of conspicuous consumption or waste. Conspicuous consumption has evolved into invidious consumption where consumption is a mark of one’s superior social status and particularly aimed at provoking envy. The whole point is unashamed one-upmanship.  

“Think of the izikhotane or skothane cultural phenomenon where young people engage in ritualised and ostentatious consumerist waste for social prestige. This is an excellent example of invidious consumption.

“Instead of striving to become good citizens, we have become good consumers and none are more vulnerable than our youth irrespective of cultural and ethnic differences”.

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