The launch of the centre was a combination of both a retrospective glance over its research activities since 2013 as well as their future plans and goals . Guest speaker, Prof Lionel Wee, Vice-Dean of Research at the National University of Singapore, introduced a panel debate on the theme of ‘Multilingualism at the CZrossroads'. The panel discussion included academics across faculties, namely: Christine Anthonissen, Charlyn Dyers, Bassey Antia, Hermann Wittenberg, Michelle van Heerden, Amiena Peck and Sindiwe Magona.
Acting Director at the Centre for Multilingualism and Diversities Research, Professor Christopher Stroud, said: “The CMDR at UWC offers a space for students and staff to vent their concerns, rethink the issue of multilingualism and the development of a new discourse with which to approach interdisciplinary work in the humanities and the education sciences.”
He said the brief for the CMDR involves interrogating contemporary and historical African intellectual heritage through a critical review of the role of language and multilingualism in the colonial archive, and in the light of critical framings of multilingualism and diversity.
Professor Stroud added that the Centre seeks to provide an intellectual space to further critical rethinking of what kinds of questions we should be asking of language, literary and cultural study, strengthening existing interdisciplinary projects or leading to new ones, and enabling challenging questions to be asked of the disciplines themselves in the reconstitution of a post-apartheid humanities landscape.
The day concluded with riveting performances by Emile YX?, and movingpoem recitals by the likes of veteran performers such as Sindiwe Magona and Antjie Krog as well as young upcoming artists such as Joy Ryan. Summing up the event was a candid conversation on race, poverty, Hip and Hop and Afrikaaps between Dr Quentin Williams and Emile YX?.
This eclectic mix of academic discourse, artistic performance and community engagement is a defining feature of CMDR and we look forward to seeing what this young, vibrant Centre will do next!