Chapter 16: Academic freedom, students and the decolonial turn in South Africa
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Nyamnjoh and Luescher ask about the capacity of 'academic freedom' to offer a conceptual framework in understanding the recent student protests in South African higher education that demanded a 'free decolonized education'? In their view, the nation-wide student protests signifying a 'decolonial turn' in South African higher education present two co-constitutive opportunities in terms of academic freedom: They provide an opportunity to foreground students as a key constituency in discourses on academic freedom by considering whether struggles for a free decolonized education are intelligible in the idiom of academic freedom. They argue, through illustration with student protest repertoires, that the South African student movement of 2015/16 known by the names of formations and campaigns such as #RhodesMustFall, #RUReferencelist and #FeesMustFall, can be seen as struggles in response to the erosion of student academic freedom. This 'freedom to learn', which is too often a transient focus in discourses on academic freedom, is undermined by material precarity, patriarchy, institutional racism and coloniality. Therefore, despite the local context, their interrogation has global resonance to the extent that it explores students' claim to academic freedom; and that the decolonization agenda itself resonates with various transnational contexts.

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