|University of KwaZulu-Natal
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This thesis is based on a study examining the concept of African scholarship through the contributions of foreign African academics at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) on the Howard College and Pietermaritzburg campuses. Being branded “The Premier University of African Scholarship” the study principally set out to investigate the role played by these academics as possible conduits in the expansion of African scholarship within the knowledge production circuit. The concept of African scholarship, though not a novel term, remains an elusive category that still needs to be defined within the global knowledge economy. A cursory look at written literature around African scholarship reveals a general tendency that presents „the debate‟ much more as a theoretical engagement and less at empirical engagements that could help advance the practicalities of this concept within the different intellectual debates. Among the different pockets of intellectuals concerned with the vision of African scholarship, the African diaspora outside the continent has always played a leading role in the need to address the African knowledge paradigms within the global intellectual production of knowledge. This study is of significance because it engages with an emerging African diaspora within the South African space and attempts to highlight how their experiences as migrants help in broadening the understanding of the African experience as a knowledge site. Using in-depth interviews within a qualitative research framework in combination with the technique of observation, the findings of this study reveal that as an emerging diaspora, foreign African academics at UKZN, are actively taking advantage of the university‟s slogan to meaningfully (re)insert „Africanness‟ in the kind of knowledge that is produced in the institution. Their contributions are measured in terms of postgraduate supervision, new research agendas, pedagogic and curricular development and networks of collaborations with other universities in Africa. Using an anthropological approach the study equally examines the implications of the attempt to position African scholarship within the global knowledge production map. The study further highlights the role that social identities such as gender, language, nationality, and race can play as epistemic spaces in the advancement of African scholarship. By engaging with these markers, the debate advances beyond the current ad hoc manner of presenting African scholarship simplistically within political rhetoric to a more nuanced incorporation of other markers which should occupy epistemic spaces within the discourse of African scholarship.