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All inclusive: lustrum UG, 5-15 June 2019

Science programme Conference: “Growing together: Celebrating diversity and fostering inclusion”

Shose Kessi

Shose Kessi
Shose Kessi

Identity and belonging at the University of Cape Town: A Photovoice study

Representations of community, nation, gender, and ‘race’ play a critical part in the production, maintenance and contestation of cultural identities. This presentation explores the production of identities and stories about identities – stories about who we are, which social groups we belong to, how we navigate the politics of inclusion and exclusion.

The examples discussed are stories by black students talking about cultural identity and belonging in a Higher Education Institution in South Africa, the University of Cape Town. These were collected as part of a digital storytelling project using Photovoice methods that aimed to provide the social and psychological support to challenge otherwise stigmatizing representations of self, community and culture.

I begin by examining the role of dominant discourses on blackness in higher education and how these contribute to experiences of alienation and marginalization. The second part of the presentation returns to the Photovoice project and examines how, through a facilitated process, students challenged existing representations of ‘race’; unpacked meanings of blackness as gendered and classed; and brought to the fore stories of cultural belonging and social change.

Shose Kessi is currently Acting Dean in the Faculty of Humanities and Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at UCT. Her research centers on social & political psychology, community-based empowerment and social change, exploring issues of identity, such as race, class, and gender, and how these impact on people’s participation in transformation efforts.

A key focus is the development of Photovoice methodology as a participatory action research tool that can raise consciousness and mobilize community groups into social action. Her research has been recognized by the International Society for Political Psychology through the Erik Erikson Award for 2018.

Shose completed her PhD in 2010 in Organizational and Social Psychology at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and joined UCT in 2011. She was the UCT Mandela fellow at the WEB DuBois Research Institute, Hutchins Centre, Harvard University for 2014; and visiting scholar in the Department of Behavioral and Psychological Sciences at the LSE in 2017.

Shose is a co-founder and first chairperson of the UCT Black Academic Caucus and has served on the VC’s Special Executive Task Team and as Deputy Dean for Transformation in the Humanities Faculty.

Last modified:13 May 2019 2.38 p.m.
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