At the foot of the volcano

Refletions on teaching at a South African university
Publisher: Best Red
Availability:in stock 1000 item(s)
Width: 250CM
Height: 176CM

About the book

At a time of robust public contestation about higher education in South Africa, At the Foot of the Volcano focuses on the personal journeys of university lecturers as ordinary people. The lecturers, based predominantly at the University of Cape Town, share a passion for inspiring South Africas next generation of scientists, health care workers, social scientists, poets, essayists, musicians, urban planners, anthropologists and chemists.

Too often Information and Communication Technology is offered as the panacea for course content in uncertain times. At the Foot of the Volcano suggests that no amount of technological innovation can stand in the place of building relationships with students, finding ways to instil passion for our disciplines, and an awareness of the sources of structural inequality that underpin the current political climate across higher institutions.

About the volume editor

Susan Levine is an Associate Professor in the School of African and Gender Studies, Anthropology and Linguistics at the University

of Cape Town. Her work in medical anthropology has contributed significantly to building a critical, medical humanities in South Africa. She is currently pursuing the value of an epistemology of love for redressing alienation and discontent in contemporary higher learning institutions.

About the authors

Peter Anderson is a poet and academic in the Department of English at UCT. He specialises in the Romantic era and on the history of the Cape eastern frontier. He has published variously on topics from photography in the South African campaign in Italy in WWII to Coleridge, Pringle and the Xhosa war doctor Makhanda, and from landscape to the weather. He is the author of two volumes of poetry, Litany Bird and Foundling's Island, and the editor of the anthology In the Country of the Heart.

Bette Davidowitz is an Emeritus Associate Professor of Chemistry at UCT. She specialised in first year teaching and believes that an important aspect of her work is to link the abstract concepts of chemistry to everyday life. She leads research projects in Pedagogical Content Knowledge as well as teaching and learning in the classroom. She has a PhD in organic chemistry from UCT and in 2004 she was the recipient of a Distinguished Teacher Award from UCT and the South African Chemical Institute Medal for Chemistry Education. In 2012 she received a certificate of commendation from HELTASA which awards the annual National Excellence in Teaching and Learning Awards.

Zimitri Erasmus is Associate Professor of Sociology in Anthropology at the University of the Witwatersrand. In her book Race Otherwise (2017) she argues that to challenge processes of racialization requires an epistemic shift from genealogical ways of knowing to sociogenic ways of coming to know.

Shose Kessi is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Psychology at the University of Cape Town. She specialises in social psychology and is involved in work that contributes to theoretical and methodological developments towards a decolonial feminist praxis for psychologies in Africa. She is currently involved in participatory research projects involving black students and staff in higher education in South Africa.

Brad Liebl is an Emeritus Associate Professor (2013) of Classical Voice. In his 25 years in South Africa, he interpreted leading operatic roles, Lieder and oratorio. In Germany and the USA he was a principal performer in oratorio, opera, operetta and Lieder concerts. During the last fifteen years Liebl has performed principal roles in the world premieres of five new operas, The Lost Dauphin, Amarantha, Valley Song, African Songbook, and Words from a Broken String. Among his many former UCT student graduates of note are Abel Moeng (A Standard Bank Young Artist Winner and Finalist in the Cardiff Singer of the World Competition), Fikile Mvinjelwa (A Standard Young Artist Award Winner and First Place Winner of the Boris Christoff Award), Patrick Tikolo (current Head of Voice at the South African e of Music at UCT) and Lionel Mkhwanazi (current Head of Voice at the University of KwaZulu Natal).

Helen Macdonald is a senior lecturer in Anthropology, University of Cape Town. She is interested in tuberculosis, mining, health

research ethics, belief & scepticism, witchcraft and teaching anthropology in higher education institutes. She won the UCT Distinguished Teachers Award in 2013 and was short listed for the national HELTASA National Excellence in Teaching and Learning Award in 2017.

Anwar Mall is an Emeritus Professor in the Division of General Surgery, UCT, where he has a research laboratory specialising in the role of mucus in health and disease. He has also been a mentor and teacher in Medical Biochemistry in the Academic Support Programme and the Deputy Portfolio Manager of Student Support of the Health Sciences Faculty, a residence warden for 26 years and the Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Student Support and Transformation of UCT during the period 2015- 2016.

Sophie Oldfield is the University of Cape Town and University of Basel Professor in Urban Studies, based at the African Centre for Cities at the University of Cape Town and in the Department of Social Sciences at University of Basel. Her research challenges how academics work in and between ‘university’ and ‘community’. Commitment to this collaborative approach lies at the heart of her writing on cities of the Global Gouth.

Steve Reid is a family physician from KwaZuluNatal with a background in rural health and community-based education. He is currently the chair of primary health care at UCT, where he teaches in public health, family medicine and health sciences education. He is also a keen musician and is promoting the development of the medical humanities as an interdisciplinary academic field in South Africa.

Hedley Twidle is a writer, teacher and scholar based in the English Department at the University of Cape Town. His collection of essays and creative non-fiction, Firepool: Experiences in an Abnormal World, was published in 2017 by Kwela Books. An academic monograph, Experiments With Truth: Narrative Non-fiction and the Coming of Democracy in South Africa, is forthcoming in the African Articulations series from James Currey / Boydell & Brewer in 2019. More of his work can be found at 


Foreword by Elelwani Ramugondo


Introduction: Passion for the art of teaching Susan Levine (Anthropology)

1 Critical pedagogy: An art hoping to ‘make new people’?

Zimitri Erasmus (Sociology)

2 Over the freeway

Peter Anderson (English Language and Literature)

3 Thirteen ways: Teaching writing, creative and otherwise

Hedley Twidle (English Language and Literature)

4 The road to distinguished teaching at a world-class African university

Anwar Suleman Mall (Medical Biochemistry)

5 Crossing the city: Pedagogies beyond the classroom

Sophie Oldfield (Geography and Urban Studies)

6 Kindling fires: Reflections on the journey of a chemistry teacher

Bette Davidowitz (Chemistry)

7 Reflections on teaching critical anthropology in physiotherapy

Helen Macdonald (Anthropology)

8 Engaged scholarship: Bridging the gap between academia, activism and lived experience

Shose Kessi (Psychology)

9 Teaching voice: Building artistry through teacher–student collaboration

Brad Liebl (Music)

10 Lessons from the heart

Steve Reid (Primary Health Care)


11 ‘Looking beyond the microscope’: Rethinking pedagogy for health science students learning medical anthropology Susan Levine and Helen Macdonald (Anthropology)

About the authors