The 2015/2016 #RhodesMustFall and #FeesMustFall student protest action reignited the call to transform and decolonise South African institutions of higher learning. The movements highlighted institutional racism and oppression, lack of racial diversity and a Eurocentric curriculum that is far-removed from the lived experiences of students. In response to some of the matters stemming from the movements, first, the study analysed the race, gender, and university status of authors publishing in the Acta Criminologica: African Journal of Criminology and Victimology. In addition, the researcher investigated the Criminology curriculum through the views of postgraduate and academic staff members at various institutions in South Africa. Last, the study explored the experiences of female criminologists to determine how gender and race influences their academic trajectories. Relevant literature, intersectionality and critical race theory were used to contextualise transformation and decolonisation.
A multi-method approach was employed to determine and explore the transformation and decolonisation of Criminology in post-apartheid South Africa. Three independent research projects were conducted using knowledge production, Criminology curriculum and experiences of female criminologists as indicators of transformation and decolonisation. A quantitative content analysis method was used to analyse the Acta Criminologica: African Journal of Criminology and Victimology, and an online survey was administered to 43 academic staff members and 45 postgraduate students. Furthermore, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 17 female criminologists. Results from the content analysis and online survey was analysed using the Statistical Package for Social sciences. The Mann-Whitney U and Kruskall-Wallis H tests were used to determine any significant differences. Recurring themes were identified from the interviews, and the data were transcribed verbatim.
The empirical results revealed significant gender and racial differences in terms of the authors publishing in the Acta Criminologica: African Journal of Criminology and Victimology, with the majority of first authors being White and male. Although the bulk of articles were from historically White institutions, the results displayed a significant shift (p=0.004) in publications by authors in former historically disadvantaged institutions. The survey indicated that the respondents were familiar with decolonisation, even prior to the #RhodesMustFall and #FeesMustFall student protest action. In addition, the urgency to decolonise the curriculum was more pronounced among Black than White academics (p=0.41; r=-0.37). Interviews with female criminologists revealed prevailing gender and racial inequalities insofar as interactions with students, relationship with the institution and leadership positions are concerned.
Women and Black scholars continue to be under-represented as authors and knowledge producers in the discipline. A major concern with the Criminology curriculum is the absence of indigenous knowledge systems with Eurocentric views and knowledge continuing to shape what counts as knowledge in Criminology. Even with gender equity policies in place, female criminologists continue to experience the academia as alienating and patriarchal. Therefore, further research on institutional culture, racism and sexism is warranted. In addition, a decolonised and transformed Criminology curriculum is possible through collaborative efforts between students and (Black and White) academics.