Interdisciplinary Summer School 2017

Stream 1: Men in the ex-Colonies in Transnational Context

Leader: Prof Kopano Ratele
Institute for Social and Health Sciences, Masculinity, Tradition and Social Change Programme

The question of men is one that South Africans are deeply interested in. Confronted by high levels of femicide, rape, absentee fathers, income inequality, racism, poverty and unemployment, and calls for the first female president in the country’s history, many are asking what to think of men, what to do about men, how to engage them, how to make them less violent, and what do men feel about women, other genders, children, themselves?

The man question, as feminists used to say, is a dense question – composed of many others questions, spills out of the field of critical studies on men and masculinity, and goes far beyond the borders of this society. The man question cuts through diverse forms power, structural and subjective inequalities, culture, violence against women, children and other men; through war, politics, men’s traumatic experience in childhood, national economy, subjective powerlessness; through colonial history, alcohol and drug abuse, issues of fathers, sexual exploitation, unemployment, and suicide. In the same way we see other social and human disciplines, there is nothing in society that cannot be analysed from the perspective of men and masculinity studies.

And yet while there is vibrant and expanding body of work on men and masculinities has developed in South Africa, the labour is marked by a surface confrontation with the fact of South Africa as an ex-colony and its embeddedness in modern global coloniality. In the colonies, men are markedly and rigidly unequal. In the colonies masculinities hierarchically organised. The coloniser is the man, the colonised a subhuman. These ideas about who is a man, who is human (or who is a woman) are difficult to transform and slow to change even after the end of de jure colonialism. Colonial ideologies do not stop being powerful on Independence Day.

The 5th Sumer School University of South Africa includes the Stream Men in the ex-Colonies in Transnational Context. Men in the ex-Colonies in Transnational Context aims to think into existence a genuinely transnational, pluriversal, world-centred studies on men and masculinities that takes into account the history of colonisation and modern global coloniality. World-centred studies on men and masculinities are taken as those that are bold in confronting the fact of colonisation in shaping men’s power and experiences as well as global capitalist coloniality. Informed by diverse intellectual traditions, including anti-colonial, black, radical, feminist, anti-racist, decolonial thinkers, the Men in the ex-Colonies in Transnational Context is meant to raise and think through the fact of colonisation in global studies on men and masculinities.


  • Professor Jeff Hearn, Senior Professor, Gender Studies, Örebro University, Sweden; Professor of Sociology, University of Huddersfield, UK; Professor Emeritus, Hanken School of Economics, Finland.
  • Professor Sakhumzi Mfecane, Anthropology and Sociology Department, University of Western Cape, South Africa
  • Professor Jordanna Matlon, School of International Service, American University, Washington, DC, United States of America.
  • Professor Kopano Ratele, Institute for Social and Health Sciences, University of South Africa; Violence, Injury and Peace Research Unit, Medical Research Council-University of South Africa.


Students who are pursuing or intend to pursue master’s and doctoral degrees with an emphasis on the topic of men, women, sexualities, femininities or masculinities, within any discipline in the social sciences and humanities (including but not limited to cultural studies, sociology, film studies, anthropology, history, psychology, politics, literature, women’s and gender studies, literature), should apply. We particularly encourage those with an interest in questions of gendered decolonization, Africanisation, and transformation to apply.