A university without ruins: Some reflections on possibilities and particularities of an African university

  • Y. Waghid Stellenbosch University


Ron Barnett’s (2016) Understanding the university announces that 'the university is a task without end … [and] since the university is always on the move, always moving in its spaces – economic, social, political, cultural, institutional and so on – its possibilities will always be moving on' (Barnett 2016, 9). I concur with Barnett’s cogent analytical take on the contemporary university, and draws on his three-pronged analysis, namely that a university is an institution and an idea; it is an institution in the present with future possibilities; and that it embodies a set of particulars and universals. The particulars and universals want to offer, firstly, a defence of a university as a democratic institution.  Secondly, in line with Jacques Derrida’s (2004) novel thoughts on a contemporary university, I make a case for a university as a responsible institution-in-becoming within an African context, thereby bringing into contestation the notion that a university can ever be ‘in ruins’.


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Author Biography

Y. Waghid, Stellenbosch University
Yusef Waghid is distinguished professor of philosophy of education at Stellenbosch University.


Barnett, R. 2013. Imagining the university. New York, NY: Routledge.

Barnett, R. 2016. Understanding the university: Institution, idea, possibilities. New York, NY: Routledge.

Derrida, J. 2004. Eyes of the university. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

Giroux, H.A. 2007. The university in chains. Boulder, CO: Paradigm.

Readings, B. 1996. The university in ruins. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

How to Cite
Waghid, Y. 2017. “A University Without Ruins: Some Reflections on Possibilities and Particularities of an African University”. South African Journal of Higher Education 31 (3), 1-5. https://doi.org/10.20853/31-3-1337.
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