MA Culture and Environment in Africa
To the University of the Western Cape (UWC)
Research topic: Cultural and Social Responsibility in Future Planning: Prospects and Apprehensions of the Future in the Environmental Education Sector.
My name is Dorothe Hilse and I am currently doing my Master´s Degree in Culture and Environment in Africa (CEA) at the University of Cologne. With the funding by the DAAD Network “Re-mapping the Global South” I was able to conduct research in Cape Town, South Africa in a Township named Philippi.
I was in South Africa throughout August and October 2018 and joined an organization called Beyond Expectations Environmental Project (BEEP) for a few weeks during my stay. It is a non-profit organization founded in 2005 which concentrates on raising awareness for the environment to re-connect with nature and to support urban children and youth, especially in Philippi. BEEP offered me a field to conduct my research and through volunteering I had the chance to give something back to the community as well.
My topic focuses on time and its different concepts regarding cultures and their understanding of the notion of future. I seek to elaborate the prospects and apprehensions for the future of the participants and their parents, members and the founders of BEEP. This endeavour also considers perceptions of their personal, cultural and social responsibility when it comes to the device of preserving the culture for the future in post-apartheid South Africa. This elucidates the aspect of time, which can point to a clash of cultures, because of the differences between time concepts that Western time (three-dimensional as past, present and future) and African time (two-dimensional as past and present without an infinite future) present. I conducted research using different methods such as observations, informal conversations and semi-structured interviews, time allocations, workshops and field notes.
My time in South Africa was not only productive during my fieldwork but also rewarding in terms of personal experience while meeting all kinds of people who enriched my life during my stay. I want to thank all the parties – DAAD, GSSC, and BEEP - involved who made it possible to do my fieldwork in South Africa.