Professor Debra Meyer (Executive Dean: Faculty of Science) presented a public lecture on “Decolonisation: the ‘missing link’ between Sara Baartman, Comparative Anatomy and Afrikaans” on 21 September 2018.
UJ staff members and students as well as members of the public attended the lecture at the UJ Library, Auckland Park Kingsway Campus. The lecture challenged audiences to “consider the dangers of racial generalisations and perceptions, even when done through the lens of scientific investigation”.
Comparative Anatomy and Sara Baartman
The origins of the discipline of Comparative Anatomy (the study of similarities and differences in the anatomy of different species) were addressed. Comparative Anatomy’s intricate link to Sara Baartman (through Georges Cuvier) was also addressed. It was noted that in life Georges Cuvier acknowledged Sara Baartman’s intelligence, multilingualism, and excellent memory. However, in death, he proclaimed her the missing link in the evolution of humankind.
Afrikaans and Decolonisation
The lecture used Comparative Anatomy and the existence of scientific racism to shed light on “why different race groups respond differently to incidents of racism in our society”. In conclusion, Professor Debra Meyer explained why “the existence of Afrikaans is arguably the most prominent example of successful decolonisation”.
Author: Ms. Ofentse Olunloyo