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Humanities “like a marriage of infidelity”

- By Vivienne Rowland

Professor Loren Landau, the South African Research Chair in Human Mobility and the Politics of Difference equates graduating in the humanities to a marriage of infidelity.

“Graduation with a degree in humanities may be seen as formalising something of a polygamous marriage filled with a lifetime of infidelity. And, I might add, that is a good thing.  We in the humanities cannot be satisfied with one set of rules or one partner. We are a promiscuous bunch that won’t stay true to the rules or ideas imparted by others however much we respect them, however esteemed their position, or however many times their words have been repeated,” said Landau.

Speaking at the graduation ceremony of the Wits Faculty of Humanities on Monday, 30 June 2014, Landau urged the graduating students to never take an explanation at face value, to always ask questions and always seek alternative avenues of doing things.

"A life without flirtation and anxiety brings with it risks, risks when we fall in line with the traditions, ideas, and customs that we inherit or are pressed upon us. The risk of marriage to a single voice or opinion is that we end up with what the sociologists might call “mimetic isomorphism”, or in layman’s terms, we might just end up looking the same,” said Landau.

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The graduation ceremony also marked an important milestone in the life of Jack Ginsberg, founding patron of The Ampersand Foundation; and founder and donor to The Ampersand Foundation Endowment at the Wits Art Museum, who was awarded a Gold Medal by Wits University.