UCT singers in line for plum overseas scholarship | Seaweed gurus inspire Mauritius | Zoologists hog conference awards | Visitor speaks of the intellectual tug-of-war twixt the north and the south
UCT singers past and present will account for no fewer than 10 of the 12 singers who travel to Johannesburg on 1 September to vie for the two sought-after overseas scholarships, each valued at R170 000, awarded annually by the Southern African Music Rights Organisation (SAMRO). The 12 semi-finalists, picked from the 23 singers who made it to the qualifying round, will compete in two categories - western art and jazz/popular - in Johannesburg. Sheer weight of numbers, and history, would suggest that a UCT singer will triumph. But losing isn't the end of the world - UCT graduate Bokani Dyer, runner-up in 2009, was just recently named the 2011 Standard Bank Young Artist of the Year for jazz.
Professor John Bolton of the Department of Botany made newspaper headlines in Mauritius recently when he and postdoctoral fellow Dr Lydiane Mattio co-presented a five-day course at the University of Mauritius on seaweed biodiversity and biogeography. The course was opened by Dr Rajesh Jeetah, the island nation's minister of tertiary education, science, research and technology. Jeetah spoke particularly of Mauritius' interest in starting up its own seaweed industry, valued globally in 2003, according to a United Nations study released that year, at about $6 billion.
Doctoral students of the Department of Zoology have been sweeping up awards across the nation. Sharon Okanga took the prize for the best student presentation from the July conference of the Zoology Society of Southern Africa, held in Stellenbosch. Marietjie Kotze won the same award at the XVIIth Congress of the Entomological Society of Southern Africa in Bloemfontein earlier that month. Also in July, Tali Hoffman (in picture) picked up the prize for best student paper at the annual meeting of the Primate Ecology and Genomics Group (part of the South African Primatology Association), held in KwaZulu-Natal. And in June, Vere Ross-Gillespie was named as the winner of the award for best paper presented by a PhD student at the Congress of the Southern African Society of Aquatic Scientists, who also met in KwaZulu-Natal.
University-based knowledge production is heavily biased towards northern (American and UK) journals, and this entrenches existing inequalities in the knowledge economy, according to Professor Raewyn Connell of the University of Sydney. Presenting a seminar on her influential 2007 book, Southern Theory, as part of UCT's Project for the Enhancement of Research Capacity (PERC) recently, Connell (right in picture, with Robert Morrell of the Research Office), who had delivered at VC Open Lecture at UCT as well, argued that northern dominance could be challenged by intellectuals in the south having the confidence to generate their own theory, by supporting local and indigenous knowledge outlets, and by establishing south/south connections in the production of knowledge.
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