Pregnancy and bodies of knowledge in a South African university

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Based on a classroom encounter of the author, this article explores the gendered nature of African university space. It discusses a 2007-8 policy that banned pregnant adult students from living in the student residence halls at the University of the Western Cape in Cape Town, South Africa. The policy was implemented despite protests from the university's students and staff. The article argues that the more visibly reproductive a student's body became, the more alien it was considered to be in spaces of knowledge production. This alienation was incongruous at a university widely considered as the most politically progressive in South Africa. It was rooted, however, in Western-oriented traditions of masculinist knowledge production in which there is no space for the female, let alone the pregnant, body in intellectual spaces; and in South African traditions of marginalization, exclusion, and passing in public space. Exploring ideas of body language and bodies of knowledge, the article concludes that there is a need for an interdisciplinary politics and epistemology of seepage in higher educational institutions that recognizes women's minds and their bodies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-20
Number of pages20
JournalAfrican Studies Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology


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