Prof Seedat Social Change Lecture 2014

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Looking Back at Three Decades of Research Enactments and Change

Mohamed Seedat

UNISA Institute for Social and Health Sciences

MRC-UNISA Violence, Injury and Peace Research Unit


Observing the reflexive turn, evident in the social and human sciences and the intention of Rhodes University’s Psychology and Social Change Project, I will approach the presentation as a pause moment. The presentation is intended as a reflexive moment to describe the many enactments of academic labour and meanings of social and psychological change contained in the works of the UNISA Institute for Social and Health Sciences, its Medical Research Council partner and the labour of the many associated people. The Institute, which celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2015, is a long-standing community centered university department that has housed many socially minded academics, researchers and community engagement workers committed to transformative research, scholarship and community interventions. For the Institute and its people, the close on three decades scholarship and practice has in part entailed engagement with many psychologies and intervention sciences, such as public health directed at supporting large scale violence and injury prevention efforts, and the examination of knowledge claims underlying research, teaching and training. As such, the reflections will draw on the Institute as a case example to highlight the tensions, ambiguities and many moments of non-reflexivity and confusion that sometimes characterise community and change-centered enactments of research. Work, framed by varying ideas of relevance, criticality and social justice, also entails the hidden emotional work of learning to live with messiness and a sense of dissatisfaction.


Mohamed Seedat,an internationally recognised researcher (NRF B-rated scientist),is the current Head of the Institute for Social and Health Sciences (ISHS). He also directs the Violence, Injury and Peace Research Unit, a collaboration between the Medical Research Council and the University of South Africa. His collaborative writings, used as a teaching resource in South Africa and abroad, represent contributions to the areas of psychology, public health, and violence and injury prevention research and policy.