January 26, 2022
3:00pm to 5:00pm

Location: (Please register for this zoom talk using the zoom link)


Next quarter, we will be beginning our new Sociology Department Colloquium in keeping with the start of last year's Scholar(ship) Denied series to meet as a collective and discuss issues related to institutional and disciplinary inequalities along axes of race, ethnicity, class, gender, citizenship, sexuality, and more. We have secured a fantastic lineup of speakers for the second half of the 2021-22 school year, and we hope you will join us for the first of our meetings with Professor Zine Magubane, details below & flyer to come in the new year!

Abstract: South African sociology is a colonial discipline. As such, it was not born out of a desire to add to the general store of knowledge about human nature and social relations. Rather, its raison d’être was to produce knowledge in the service of apartheid. Therefore, the matrix of ideas and understandings that coalesced around the concept of ‘culture’ in South African sociology cannot readily be separated from the issue of cultural violence. Indeed, to review the history of South African sociology is to review the history of an idea—culture—deployed in the service of colonial violence. The ideas about culture that were the bedrock of the South African apartheid policy of ‘separate development’ took the shape that they did because of the strength of the connection between ‘scientific sociology’ in South Africa and the apartheid regime. South African sociology was not, however, a sui generis phenomenon. As an imperial episteme it traced its roots and borrowed many of its concepts about culture from American sociology, which was, itself, shaped primarily to meet the ideological needs of the post-Civil War ‘New South’. The concept of ‘cultural difference’ in American sociology, which evolved out of the practical needs of transforming industrial and agrarian labor relations in the period following emancipation, captured the hearts and minds of the first generation of South African sociologists.


Bio:Professor Zine Magubane is a Professor of Sociology at Boston College. She also holds a courtesy appointment in the department of African and African Diaspora studies at Boston College. Her areas of specialization include social theory, sociology of post-coloniality, race and ethnicity, globalization, race and popular culture, gender and sexuality, and the sociology of African societies. Her work has appeared in Signs, Gender & Society, and Critical Sociology. She is currently working on a book titled “Decolonizing Classical Theory: Slavery, Imperialism, and the Making of a 'Science' of Society.”

Upcoming schedule:


1/26: Zine Magubane

4/13: Paul Lichterman

4/27: Adia Wingfield

5/18: Whitney Pirtle, Scholar(ship) Denied